World Refugee Day

Photograph of refugees in Colombia
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The United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, and the National Geographic Society are pleased to honor the winners of the Third Annual UNHCR World Refugee Day poster contest sponsored by UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie. Selected from hundreds of entries illustrating the theme of Shared Wishes, Shared Dreams: Refugee Youth and Us, the winners are Grace Huang, Grades 4-5 (Northville, Michigan), Anna Dorsey, Grades 7-8 (Cairo, Georgia), and Giovanna Reed, Grades 9-10 (San Antonio, Texas).

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UNHCRs education awareness program began in the United States in 2000, with the goal of introducing American students to refugee and human rights issues. The poster contest serves to engage students, promote understanding of the plight of refugees worldwide, and to facilitate the integration of resettled refugee children into their new American communities. This year the contest was expanded to several Caribbean nations beginning educational efforts in that region.

Officials from the Corcoran Gallery of Art, USA for UNHCR, the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and National Geographic judged the contest.

We see on a daily basis the incredible courage and perseverance of refugees who have lost everything. For them, every day spent in exile or flight is a day too long. This is why World Refugee Day should be, for all of us, a time to pause and think. Because if they refuse to give up hope, how can we?—Ruud Lubbers, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

UNHCR is funded by voluntary contributions from governments, foundations, and private donors. The United States is the top government donor, contributing 25 percent of UNHCRs annual budget, and each year thousands of refugees from all over the world are resettled in the U.S. The scope of the international problem is huge and ever changing, with 20 million refugees, most of them women and children dependent on UNHCR for survival and protection.

Every June 20th, World Refugee Day celebrates the contributions and courage of refugees worldwide. World Refugee Day 2003 focuses on Refugee Youth, their many strengths, huge potential, and capacity to help themselves and their communities. In many cases, todays neighbor is tomorrows refugee; given the chance and help they need, refugee youth could also be the next decades leading businessman or woman, artist, politician or hero.
Art by Giovanna Reed, Communications Arts High School, San Antonio, Texas
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