Experience The Lives of Refugees on World Refugee Day

The decision to leave home, and the people and things you cherish – possibly forever – is one of the hardest decisions a person can make.

Yet this is the decision that refugees often have to make in order to save their lives from war, armed conflict, or serious human rights abuses. Families are torn apart because of this, and lives are altered forever. People often misunderstand who a refugee is, thinking that they are migrants looking for economic opportunities. The truth is refugees have no choice but to run, and are unable to return home safely.

In Malaysia, as of June 2014, there are some 144,000 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The majority of them are from Myanmar, but there are many also from other countries including Sri Lanka, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and others.

Their journey, and the journey made by millions of other refugees worldwide, is one that is hard for us to imagine. What we know is that in the wake of having lost everything, refugees have an incredible courage and perseverance to remain steadfast and positive in their will to survive. But they need our compassion and understanding and a humanitarian space to be able to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.

20 June is World Refugee Day. It is a salute to the indomitable spirit and courage of the world’s refugees, and mobilizes public support for their efforts in rebuilding their lives.

Join us for World Refugee Day this year at the Annexe Gallery Central Market, KL from 16 June – 22 June from 10am – 10pm where several public events will be held. Admission is free.

On 16, 17, and 21 June will be a “War and Flight” Refugee Film Screening with award-winning films related to the refugee plight. A though-provoking Photo Exhibition entitled “Pieces of Home” will be held from 17 – 22 June, depicting images and stories of refugees and the most precious item they carried with them when they fled, and a weekend of arts and cultural events will be held on Saturday, 21 June and Sunday, 22 June with the Refugee Arts and Crafts Bazaar.

Visit www.unhcr.org.my/wrd or www.facebook.com/MyWRD2014.

© UNHCR 2001 - 2011