Happy World Refugee Day!


Did you know that there are over 70 million displaced people around the world? Nearly 26 million are refugees (most of whom are running from Syria, South Sudan, and Afghanistan). A refugee is someone who has to flee their home countries to escape war, natural disasters or persecution. In an effort to broaden awareness of this crisis and help refugees find a safe home, the world looks to celebrate World Refugee Day on June 20 every year.


University of the People was fortified with a mission to help all people, regardless of their situation, to be able to access higher education. We’ll get into how we have done that, but first, let’s explore what World Refugee Day means, its history, and how you can take part in this day designed for positive change.



United Nations
Photo by Mat Reding on Unsplash



What Is World Refugee Day?

In 1951, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Geneva Convention) took place. It set out to define the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.


In 2001, the United Nations sought to commemorate the convention’s 50-year anniversary by establishing World Refugee Day, which is to be celebrated on June 20 every year.



How To Observe World Refugee Day

This year’s theme is #StepWithRefugees.


People from around the world are being challenged to get to walking, running, dancing, or swimming 1km/mile or as many steps as possible. After completing the challenge, you can upload a photo on social media with the #StepWithRefugees to encourage friends and family to get involved and learn more about refugees.


If you want to do more than the challenge, there are many different ways to celebrate World Refugee Day. It’s up to you to choose how you become involved.


Here’s a look at some ways in which people from around the world continue to celebrate this special day each year!

  • Attend An Event: There will be many digital events that the UN is producing this year. From discussing the crisis to sharing goals around the topic of refugees, you can take part by listening in.
  • Befriend Refugees: If you know of any refugees in your neighborhood or attending your school, you could form a friendship. This obviously isn’t something you’d just do one day a year, but learning more about their stories can help to open the door for connection.
  • Give Back: No matter where you work or what you do in life, you may be able to use your skills to help refugees. This could come in the form of volunteering, donating, sharing information, or even using your voice to urge your hiring manager to employ refugees.


Muslim refugee siblings smiling happy
Photo by FatCamera on iStock



The Importance Of World Refugee Day

Global international days like this exist to raise awareness, educate the public, and pave the way for solutions. Understanding more about refugees can create a world that supports:

  • Empathy: While it’s hard to ever fully understand what it is like to live someone else’s experiences, listening to stories and learning history expands feelings of empathy.
  • Peace: For the most part, refugees today are forced to leave their home because of unsafe conditions within their countries. So, if we can better understand what is happening to people in the world at the hands of war and political unrest, people can support changes that promote peace and can create a better world for all.
  • Friendship: No matter where people come from or what their experiences are, friendships can be the bond that brings all walks of life together. World Refugee Day helps to teach us how to become more aware and actively engaged citizens, neighbors, friends, and peers.


UoPeople’s Support For Refugees Is Expansive

University of the People was founded in 2009 with the mission to offer quality, affordable, and accessible higher education to all people around the globe.


In fact, in our first year of providing education online, students from around the world enrolled and the numbers grew with each subsequent year. In 2010, an earthquake caused disaster in Haiti and the University of the People partnered with the Clinton Foundation to provide 250 Haitian students with fully free education.



UoPeople welcomes refugees to study a degree
Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash



The initiatives for refugees grew thereafter. In 2015, we launched our Syrian Refugee Initiative, which granted 500 Syrian refugees admission to study. With every year, our student population expands and people from all different backgrounds can log on to learn as programs are entirely online and tuition-free.


Some of our refugees have been willing to share their inspiring stories, and it is with this hope and the differences made that we continue to support a model of education that is accessible for any prospective student.


Even though our school is tuition-free, there are some fees associated with learning, but we offer scholarships for refugees, too.



Stepping In The Right Direction

World Refugee Day is about all people who are forcibly displaced. Every 20 minutes a person has to flee to protect themselves, and whether they become an asylum seeker, refugee, internally displaced person, stateless person, or returnee, they deserve all the rights and care that citizens in countries receive.


The United Nations’ World Refugee Day is just one step towards global involvement to protect people from all walks of life.




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