Standing in Solidarity: World Refugee Day 2024

Standing in Solidarity: World Refugee Day 2024

There is a common saying that in an unpredictable world anyone can be a refugee overnight
regardless of ethnicity, social and economic status. While we are not hoping for this to hold
true, it is important to raise awareness on the precarious situation faced by millions of people
across the globe. World Refugee Day was initially established with a regional focus. The
African continent took the initiative to honour refugees in 1970, in accordance with the
United Nations' delineation of their rights in 1951. Subsequently, in 2000, the UN General
Assembly espoused a global perspective and formally designated June 20th as World
Refugee Day in acknowledgment of the widespread refugee predicament. This
commemoration has evolved into a potent instrument for fostering understanding, promoting
empathy, mobilising support, while acknowledging the courage and immense sacrifices
undertaken by refugees on a global scale. The formulation of Jamaica’s own refugee policy
since 2009 is intricately tied to the principles outlined in the 1951 Refugees Convention and
the 1967 Protocol to the Refugees Convention. This approach underscores the country's
commitment to providing a secure and supportive environment for refugees in line with
international standards.

On this day, we pay tribute to the millions of individuals who are compelled to leave their
homes each year and it was estimated by the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) that as of mid- 2023 there were “36.4 million refugees.” The statistics is
indeed alarming when considering the ad hoc responses to an increasing crisis. Therefore,
World Refugee Day sheds light on the far-reaching impacts of human conflicts, natural
disasters, and persecutions faced by refugees. As such, the day serves as a platform to
cultivate international solidarity for refugees through compelling narratives, engaging
activities, and impactful advocacy campaigns. It urges us to recognize refugees as
individuals; they are not the sum of their experiences. Refugees too have personal identities
and families with their own dreams, aspirations, and capabilities that enrich the communities
they become a part of, rather than merely faceless numbers. Crucially, this day provides a
poignant reminder to advocate for the fundamental rights outlined in the 1951 Refugee
Convention. These rights, which encompass the ability to seek asylum, access essential
resources, and rebuild lives in safety and dignity, are indispensable for refugees.

World Refugee Day is a solemn reminder of the challenges faced by refugees. In addressing
these displaced communities of people it is imperative that we focus on the systems that
interfere with their rights to social and economic inclusion in countries where they have fled.
The onus is on everyone not to avoid the real problems and confrontation of unequal
treatments and prejudices refugees have to endure. Instead, we all have a shared
responsibility to rally support from political leaders, organizations, and the public to address
the needs of refugees and work towards sustainable solutions for their predicament. Solidarity
must come with equitable solutions that offer refugees dignity, respect, safety, resettlement-
local integration- or voluntary return to country of origin as desired. While many of us have
freedom of choice to where we call home, create better lives, work and thrive; let us
remember that for millions of people across the world their lived-reality is marred by
complexity of factors. So, on this World Refugee Day, solidarity is more than a tagline but a
social and active call to stand in spirit and advocacy that emboldens and encourage
communities of refugees.






African Union. African Union Commemorates the World Refugee Day 2024, June 20, 2024.

CARICOM. Caribbean Community Jamaica’s Refugee Policy Provides Models for other
CARICOM States, February 4, 2013.

Oliver, Lauren, Marco D’Errico, and Paul Winters. 2024. “Economic Integration between
Refugee Settlements and Host Communities.” The Journal of Development Studies 60 (3):

Staples, K. “The problem with refugees”: international protection and the limits to
solidarity. Int Polit 56, 158–174 (2019).

UNHCR. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee, World Refugee Day 2024,