World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honor refugees around the globe. It falls each year on June 20 and celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. World Refugee Day is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.”
We act to engage our UU Principles 1, 2, 6, and 7 by honoring World Refugee Day through our shared plate partner for the month of June, USA for IOM. This US arm of the acclaimed humanitarian aid group International Organization for Migration, is responsible for supporting their work and mission through partnerships and fundraising.
We may not often consider the experience of the refugee, but with the Ukraine conflict fresh in our minds, we are privileged to understand their needs in a way that may feel closer to our own lives and identities than any other conflict since WWII.
“Conflicts, armed violence, disasters, epidemics, pandemics and other crises force millions of people to leave their homes and communities, sometimes for years or even decades. More than 82 million people are currently living in displacement within and across borders with disasters displacing around 25 million on average each year. Economic downturns, political instability and other drivers also compel large population movements.
As the leading UN agency working on migration, IOM is committed to saving lives and helping populations move out of harm’s way. They protect and assist those displaced or stranded by crisis, and support populations and their communities to recover.
The Organization is among the world’s largest humanitarian actors and one of the few international organizations directly impacting programmes across the humanitarian, development and peace nexus to provide comprehensive responses at all phases of crises.”
I can personally attest to the excellent work done by IOM in areas in conflict, most recently in their excellent response to the need for refugee camp staffing in Poland. They can be relied on to provide well-trained, culturally sensitive staff who are prepared with an attitude of honest helpfulness. They also proactively responded to the need for human trafficking awareness, and distributed translated materials in camps and at border points.
Historically, the US has not provided much support for IOM outside of government funding, and that funding has ebbed and flowed with the political leanings of each administration. Outside of Europe their life-saving work is not often recognized, and they are not supported by a grassroots fundraising movement. I think that the time for that to change has come, and I hope our community’s small token of support helps to spark that shift. Please join me in supporting their work.
— Altaira Hatton
Further reading: https://rovienna.iom.int/stories/living-life-pause-millions-ukrainians-face-protracted-displacement