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World Refugee Day aims to raise awareness of global refugee situation


  • Young African refugees take part in a rally marking World Refugee Day June 20 in Sana'a, Yemen. (CNS photo/Yahya Arhab, EPA)
  • A woman from South Sudan cleans a pot while carrying a child at a refugee camp in Lamwo, Uganda, June 16. World Refugee Day is June 20. (CNS photo/James Akena, Reuters)
  • A South Sudanese refugee on crutches walks past temporary tents at a camp in Lamwo, Uganda. World Refugee Day is observed annually June 20. (CNS photo/James Akena, Reuters)
  • A woman from Syria sits in a tent she shares with her sister and a friend near a refugee camp in Chios Island, Greece, June 10. World Refugee Day is June 20. (CNS photo/Zohra Bensemra, Reuters)
  • A Palestinian boy stands outside his house at a refugee camp in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, June 19. World Refugee Day is June 20. (CNS photo/Mohammed Salem, Reuters)
  • People march during a June 17 protest to commemorate World Refugee Day in Madrid, Spain. World Refugee Day is observed annually June 20. (CNS photo/Javier Barbancho, Reuters)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The annual observance of World Refugee Day June 20 "provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the global refugee situation and the success of resettled refugees," an official with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a June 19 statement.

"World Refugee Day is a day where we highlight the achievements of refugees. Refugees are like all people -- unique children of God," said Bill Canny, executive director of the USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services. "We hope to see this year's celebration of World Refugee Day create greater awareness and appreciation on both the community and national level."

According to a just-released report from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, "20 people are newly displaced every minute of the day."

"Over the past two decades, the global population of forcibly displaced people has grown substantially from 33.9 million in 1997 to 65.6 million in 2016, and it remains at a record high," said the report from the United Nations' refugee agency.

"The growth was concentrated between 2012 and 2015," it continued, "driven mainly by the Syrian conflict along with other conflicts in the region such as in Iraq and Yemen, as well as in sub-Saharan Africa, including Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Sudan."

"The world is experiencing the largest forced migration crisis since World War II," Canny said.

The USCCB has provided educational materials and other resources about refugees at https://justiceforimmigrants.org/take-action/world-refugee-day.

This is the 17th year that the United Nations has officially recognized June 20 as World Refugee Day. Many nations around the globe celebrated the observance before 2001.

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