Each June 20th since 2001, the world celebrates the World Refugee Day to honor all the refugees, women, children, men who are forced to flee their countries. It’s also a way to raise awareness to the public about the migrants issues, and so people who are forced to escape through no fault of theirs, feel supported and less alone.
From The 1951 Refugee Convention, “a refugee is someone who flee his own country because of persecution for political, economic, religious or other reasons, and enter in another state, if he/she is unwilling to return to his/her country of origin.”
All the countries who have signed the Geneva convention on refugees are bound to comply to all the agreements cited on the document.
Over decades, many amendments have been made on the 1951 document but the substance remains, namely, people are free to move from one country to another to seek refuge if they fear for their lives.
In Malta, the World Refugee Day is celebrated, the UNHCR’s bureau in the island coordinates the activities leading to the event. This year, the tradition has been respected.
The event took place in Valletta, in Piazza St Georges. In open air and accessible to the public. Round tables for discussion were set up on themes around migration, sensitive topics usually unknown by the public, when it comes to the movement of people.
Themes such as Mental health, human rights laws, or civil society engagement were discussed. Well known figures such as Father Mintoff from the Peace, or Dr Ahmed Bugri form FSM ( Foundation for Shelter and support to migrants) were leading the round tables. AWAS ( Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers) was represented by the Psychoanalyst Vanja Vajagic, leader of the newly formed Therapeutic Services Units. There was also space for human library.
This year the event was supported by the Valletta Film Festival, a sponsorship that permitted the screening of short movies about refugees.