Wednesday, June 21, 2006

World Refugee Day

Back on the subject of  the United Nations.   While in fact the organization may be dysfunctional on many levels,  it is important to not overlook the good that UN still does and the tireless efforts of  the men and women who do the frontline work.   
Yesterday the UN used its World Refugee Day activities to raise awareness and focus attention to problems that receive little or no coverage in mainstream media.   It is my prayer that this event touched the hearts of thousands of men and women who care and have the ability to make a difference.   Where UNHCR may be dropping the ball there are other organizations, ( i.e, CARE,  Doctor w/o Borders,  UNICEF etc.),  that are picking it up and running to the frontlines to meet the needs.  plk
  (20 jun 2006) From remote camps to big cities, from the steaming  lowlands of Liberia to the high plateau of Afghanistan, from floodlit  fountains to fashion shows and soccer matches, the United Nations   today celebrated World Refugee Day with a message of hope.
20 June 2006 -- From remote camps to big cities, from the steaming lowlands of Liberia to the high plateaux of Afghanistan, from floodlit fountains to fashion shows and soccer matches, the United Nations today celebrated World Refugee Day with a message of "Hope" broadcast around the globe by leaders, film stars and refugees themselves.

"For the thousands of people forced to flee their homes each year, escaping with their lives and a few belongings, is often just the start of a long struggle.

The theme of hope was chosen to highlight the continuing efforts of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners to find lasting solutions for millions of refugees and displaced people worldwide.

"If there is one common trait among the tens of millions of refugees that we at the UN refugee agency have helped over the past 55 years, it's the fact that despite losing everything, they never give up hope," said High Commissioner António Guterres, who marked the Day on the ground at the Bo Waterside area near the Liberia-Sierra Leone border, meeting returning refugees and displaced people.

There are currently 20.8 million people of concern toUNHCR, including 8.4 million refugees, more than 5 million of whom have been in exile for five years or longer.

In a message picked up by TV stations around the world, United States actress Angelina Jolie, a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, urged people to remember those forced to flee their homes.

In Buta in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a simple man who had not seen his homeland in four decades since he was taken by his fleeing family to Sudan as a four-month old infant, symbolized UNHCR's work and the Day's theme.

"Mbira, mbira" (palm tree) Mr. Imangilikuwa and his companions shouted on arrival, overjoyed at the sight of the thick forest surrounding Buta airport.

For their entire exile in Sudan, they had never seen the beloved palm trees from which their favourite cooking oil is extracted.

A world away in Afghanistan, UNHCR marked the Day with a documentary film and visits to aid centres in a country that has produced the largest group among the Agency's total global populations of concern.

Other activities showcased refugee cuisine, music, dances, arts and crafts.

In Geneva, UNHCR's home base, the city's iconic 140-metre-high jet d'eau fountain and public buildings around the country were set to be bathed in blue, the UN colour, and World Refugee Day banners were to line the Mont Blanc bridge.

Other countries were hosting a wide range of activities, including film festivals, photo exhibitions, food bazaars, fashion shows, concerts and sports, including lots of soccer in a nod to the World Cup in Germany, with games being played from Côte d'Ivoire to Nepal and from Ecuador to Turkmenistan.

Across the Atlantic in the Americas, refugees were set to paint a mural on a wall in the Ecuadorean city of Ibarra, just one of many celebrations in the hemisphere, while in Asia a free Refugee Film Week is under way in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and refugee art is on auction in Bangkok, Thailand, again just two of many continent-wide events.

"The international community owes returning refugees more than just a cooking pot and a handshake when they cross the border," High Commissioner Guterres said, summing up the day.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


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