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World Refugee Day 2018 in Central Asia

World Refugee Day is marked every year on 20 June to draw attention to the plight of millions of refugees around the globe and commemorate their strength, courage and perseverance despite the difficulties they face every day of their lives as refugees. According to the UNHCR Global Report 2017, annual statistical report, every minute 31 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution and violence. Over half of the world’s refugees are children under 18. Three and a half thousand refugees and seven hundred asylum-seekers mostly coming from Afghanistan currently reside in Central Asian republics. UNHCR supports the governments and local host communities, provides international protection and seeks durable solutions for refugees and asylum seekers in the region.

 The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called World Refugee Day this year “a time for solidarity with refugees – and with the communities that welcome them”. Standing together with refugees, UNHCR and its partners marked World Refugee Day across Central Asia in the spirit of solidarity and compassion.

 In Kazakhstan, World Refugee Day this year was marked by the launch of the important partnership with “Negal B.V.” company, which would provide internship and employment opportunities for refugees in Kazakhstan. Negal B.V., UAE Red Crescent, Nestle and LC Waikiki Kazakhstan prepared gifts for refugee children: clothes, shoes, stationaries and sweets. Afghan centre “Ariana” and Uighur National Association arranged traditional dancing and music performances demonstrating refugee and local community participants’ talents and making the whole event heartfelt and colourful. In solidarity with refugees, Shymkent circus, Family Park and State Academic Russian Theatre for Children and Teenagers named after N.Sats in Almaty opened their doors for refugee children and their parents to enjoy their performances free of charge.

In Kyrgyzstan, advocacy and awareness-raising was the main theme of World Refugee Day this year. UNHCR placed a billboard calling to solidarity with refugees in front of the UN building right in the heart of Bishkek. On 20 June, UNHCR gave an interview and talked about refugee issues and UNHCR’s work on KTRK, the country’s popular television and radio broadcasting channel covering over 97% of the settlements in the Kyrgyz Republic. In addition, UNHCR in collaboration with the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office launched a short film contest to raise awareness and draw public attention to the issues of refugees in the country.

In Tajikistan, a number of initiatives took place. The commemoration started on 19 June from a sports competition between four schools of Vakhdat city where refugee children study alongside local Tajik children. The 20 June chimed in the Good Neighbourhood Day celebration, which engaged over 2,000 people, both refugees and local Tajik community in Vakhdat city. The awareness-raising and sensitization campaign included a headline success story of a young Afghan refugee who got his dream job and became self-reliant, UNHCR livelihood video broadcasted on four big screens on Rudaki Street, the central street of Dushanbe, and audio rollers aired on Radio Vatan in Tajik and Russian languages. The round table on social cohesion and resilience of refugees in Tajikistan concluded the 2018 World Refugee Day activities in Tajikistan on 29 June.

 In Turkmenistan, UNHCR, the Turkmenistan Red Crescent and Keik Okara engaged local youth who joined the commemoration in Ashgabat. Inclusion of young people is key to building and sustaining peaceful coexistence between refugees and local communities. In solidarity with refugees, the young people prepared dance and song performances for refugees and took active participation in the round table discussions at Keik Okara Youth Center. The song calling to unite for the peaceful future and the sketch about a refugee woman performed by the young actors tugged the heartstrings of the audience.

 On World Refugee Day and every day, UNHCR calls to act with solidarity, take shared responsibility and stand together with refugees in Central Asia and all over the world.

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