June 20 is World Refugee Day. Here are ways you can show support

Each year on June 20, World Refugee Day spotlights the bravery and strength of people forced to flee their home countries to escape war or oppression.

More than 82 million people are now forcibly displaced worldwide, according to the United Nations, which established World Refugee Day in 2000.
    The UN declared this year’s theme: “Together we heal, learn and shine.”
      Refugees are unable or unwilling to return to their country due to fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.
        Here are actions you can take to help those who are displaced.

        Join virtual events

          The UN has compiled a list of events you can join from the comfort of your home that are led by or involve refugees. Have a book club? Select from a variety of books written about refugees and books by refugees from this recommended reading list.
          Download this cookbook filled with recipes from the refugee community and host a dinner party. Every download helps the UN support refugees and their families.
          Need to disconnect? Here you can sign up to participate in a global meditation session.
          To view more virtual happenings sponsored by the UN, click here.
          And if you’re active on Twitter, you can use the below emoji and hashtag to tweet in solidarity.

          Celebrate contributions of refugees

          The International Rescue Committee has worked in more than 40 countries and more than 20 US cities, delivering health care, education, cash and employment support to some of the most vulnerable people in the world.
          This year the organization is asking people to share art work of refugees on social media platforms.
          IRC President David Miliband’s work with the organization is personal.
          “The first refugees I ever met were my parents. They were refugees from Belgium and Poland to the UK in the 1940s. World Refugee Day is both a personal and a global moment to shed light on the resilience of the human spirit and the strength of people who have overcome insurmountable obstacles to rebuild their lives,” Miliband told CNN.
          Many refugees are essential workers.
          “One in five refugees resettled in the US this year [2020] by the IRC immediately took positions in health care and the food industry, supporting the US Covid-19 pandemic response,” Miliband said.
          You can send encouraging words to refugee essential workers here.

          Help fund educational scholarships

          Education is largely out of reach for the roughly 80 million people displaced, according to the UN. Only 3 percent are enrolled in college or university.
          Chrystina Russell, executive director of the Global Education Movement, is working hard to increase that number.
          Established in 2017, GEM offers refugees US-accredited degrees from Southern New Hampshire University. Eighty-eight percent find employment within six months of graduation.
          “The competency-based degree, essentially, is very different than traditional programs, because there are no lectures, no deadlines, no exams, no letter grades and instead students are completing projects that lead to competencies that then translate into credits,” Russell told CNN.
          The flexibility of the program is important because of the challenges faced by those who are displaced. To date, GEM has served more than 3,500 refugee students and alumni.
          Nour Maaz, 22, and her family fled Syria in 2014 because of the ongoing civil war. Starting a new life in Lebanon, the GEM program allowed her to continue her education at a university.
          “I can’t tell you how much it changed my life. It’s giving me the higher education needed to achieve my dream,” she told CNN.
          In 2014, Nour Maaz and her family fled Aleppo, Syria, for Lebanon. She plans to attend medical school after graduating from Southern New Hamphire University's GEM program.

          Maaz is working towards her BA in Healthcare Management and plans to become a doctor.
          “In our tradition, no girls are allowed to go to high school even. It’s helped me to be confident,” she said. “When you are able to have the skills, the knowledge and the power, you will see that change. So I hope that I can see the change in my community and all over the world.”
          GEM has 10 sites in five countries: Rwanda, Malawi, South Africa, Kenya and Lebanon.
          “Our roadblock to moving forward is just funding more scholarships. There’s potential for us to do a ton more,” Russell said.
          You can donate directly to the program here.

            Donate to organizations

            There are many organizations on the front lines supporting refugees by providing clean water, food, health care and safe places. CNN’s Impact Your World has a list of vetted charities helping refugees around the world. You can donate by clicking the button below.

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