World Refugee Day 2007 in Tokyo
Tuesday, June 19, 2007 Posted: 11:20 PM JST
(by Jean Miyake Downey) - Every year on June 20, the world honors the courage, resilience and strength of refugees. On this sixth anniversary of the United Nations-designated World Refugee Day, thousands of organizations in hundreds of countries will come together to focus global attention not only on the plight of refugees and the causes of their exile, but also on their determination and will to survive and on the contributions they make to their host communities.
Often classified unfairly with economic migrants, refugees flee their country not for economic gain but to escape persecution, the threat of imprisonment and even threats to their lives. They need a safe haven where they can recover from mental and physical trauma and rebuild their hopes for a better future.
The intolerance that is often at the root of internal displacement and refugee flows is also present in some of the countries that refugees flee to. Instead of finding empathy and understanding, they are often met with mistrust or scorn...
While most refugees want to go home, some cannot safely return. But wherever they are, refugees will always strive to pick up the pieces and start over. The courage and determination demonstrated during their darkest hours will serve them well in rebuilding a new life. On World Refugee Day, let us honor them for these qualities and recognize the richness and diversity they bring to our societies."
Karryn Cartelle's piece, "World Refugee Day: Local organizations join efforts to raise awareness of a growing problem" in Metropolis, has background on the situation of those seeking refugee status in Japan (since 1982, only 410 have been accepted out of nearly 5,000 people who have applied for refugee status in Japan) and World Refugee Day events at the UN House in Tokyo's Aoyama district.
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