18 June 2013
Every year, UNHCR and the world community hold special events to recognize the lives of refugees and other forcibly displaced people.
This year the core message of World Refugee Day is “1 family torn apart by war is too many”, aimed at drawing attention to the devastating impact of war and conflict on displaced families.
First marked in 2001, following the decision of the UN General Assembly, World Refugee Day is held every year on June 20. The annual commemoration is marked by a variety of events in more than 100 countries, involving government officials, humanitarian workers, celebrities, civilians and refugees themselves.
In Iraq a series of events to commemorate World Refugee Day are taking place across the country.
In Erbil, a musical band of urban and Domiz based Syrian refugees will sing live traditional Kurdish songs for an audience at the Citadel. The event will also host an exhibition of hand painted portraits by Syrian refugees, and an award will be given to the journalist for the ‘best article’ on Syrian refugees. In Dohuk, a live concert will be held for urban refugees led by a popular Kurdish singer. Domiz Camp will also host events including singing and dancing as well as activities reaching out to extremely vulnerable individuals and families.
In southern Iraq, celebrations will take place in four governorates where prizes will be awarded to the most innovative entrepreneur participating in UNHCR’s Business Enterprises Establishment project.
In Basra, the mobile theatre project, which focuses on various messages including education, hygiene, and respect for one another, will perform for children.
In Baghdad, Ministers, Ambassadors, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and partners gathered on 17 June to commemorate World Refugee Day. Opening this event, UNHCR Representative in Iraq Claire Bourgeois noted that “the various forms of solidarity and cooperation give hope to the refugee community.” Separate events are being held in Baghdad with partners to celebrate with the refugee community where an art gallery will display locally made crafts and children’s drawings and the distribution of sports equipment for children will take place.
The two year old conflict in Syria, which is often described as a humanitarian disaster, continues to force hundreds of thousands of people to seek refuge in neighbouring countries, including Iraq. Just 18 months after registering the first refugee who fled the Syria conflict, Iraq is now hosting nearly 160,000 Syrian refugees, mostly in Anbar, Dohuk, Erbil, and Sulaymaniyah governorates.
In addition to Syrian refugees, Iraq is struggling to cope with huge numbers of uprooted Iraqis, including internally displaced people and returnees. At the same time refugees from Palestine, Turkey, Iran and other countries have sought safety and protection in Iraq for several decades and Dr. Bourgeois appeals to the government “to ensure that Iraq remains a country of asylum for all people seeking refuge by ensuring access to Iraqi territory.”
The Syria Refugee Regional Response Plan, which was officially launched by UNHCR in Geneva and other world capitals, including Baghdad, is the largest global appeal ever made by the United Nations and NGOs as more than 1.6 million people have fled Syria.
In one minute a family can lose everything…take one minute to support a family forced to flee.
Information on the Syrian refugee response in Iraq is available at:
For further information please contact:
In Baghdad, Natalia Prokopchuk +964 7809217341
In Amman, Jessica Hyba +962 797778797