For Immediate Release: June 20, 2020
This year’s World Refugee Day comes at an unprecedented and pivotal time in the U.S. and across the globe.
As in past years, Refugee Congress takes this day to celebrate the presence and contributions of refugees in our communities. Along with refugees and refugee resettlement organizations around the world, we are organizing events honoring the contributions and resilience of refugees.
As in past years, we also take this day to urge our elected officials to create policies and processes that welcome and support refugees, asylum-seekers and other vulnerable migrants. At a time when an unprecedented 79.5 million people — including 29.6 million refugees — have been forcibly displaced by conflicts and persecution, we call on our elected officials to restore the long U.S. tradition of welcome and allow the U.S. to remain a place of safety for those fleeing violence and persecution.
This year, unlike in the past, we must also take this day to reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic and the lives lost and in danger. We fear for the wellbeing of refugee and asylum-seeker communities that are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, especially refugees in refugee camps and asylum-seekers held unjustly in detention facilities.
We also fear for the wellbeing of our American communities, where many face economic hardships brought on by the pandemic and worry for their futures.
Moreover, we fear for the wellbeing of Black and Brown residents in the U.S. As we watch the killings of Black Americans at the hands of the forces that are supposed to protect us, many of us relive the traumas we fled and the violence and persecution that made us refugees.
As we respond to these hardships and fears, we celebrate the resilience and contributions of refugees in the U.S. and around the world. We are inspired by our fellow refugees serving in essential roles on the front lines against COVID-19 — in hospitals, community health centers, nursing homes, grocery stores, warehouses, factories, farm fields, childcare centers and so much more. We also thank our fellow refugees, asylees and immigrants who are leading volunteer community efforts to assist vulnerable neighbors and organize donations to meet basic human needs.
We also celebrate the resilience and courage of members of our communities who are taking a stand against racism and advocating for policies to build more just and equitable communities.
We are stronger together. We need your voice and support to make the necessary changes to ensure all refugees, asylum-seekers and other vulnerable migrants have the welcome and support they need.