Today is World Refugee Day.
Currently, there are 65 million people forcible displaced globally and the number is growing every day.
The UN states that the World Refugee Day commemorates “the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. This year, World Refugee Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee.”
To highlight this issue, international organisations such as UNESCO and many others have been actively promoting the stories, issues, data and conversations then need to be talked about as the countries individually and collectively struggle to deal with critical refugee issues.
The refugee crisis is an issue that every country has to deal with.
So below I have 3 ideas for Aussie cyclists to mull over* in honour of today’s theme.
3 Considerations for World Refugee Day 2017
1. Is Australia really helping the Refugee Crisis enough?
YES! It is!
SBS reported Australia’s current refugee involvement in a positive light by publishing the following encouraging stats:
$33.9 million has been raised in the last year (2016-2017) by Australia for UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) official partner in Australia) to support the UN’s worldwide emergency and humanitarian programs.
Of the record $33.9 million that Australia for UNHCR has raised:
- 75% are for UNHCR’s general emergency operations
- 19% for emergencies in Syria, South Sudan, Iraq & Ecuador
- 6% for specific projects providing targeted support for women, girls and children
- $550,000 was raised by the community in NSW, QLD, WA and SA, to support Australia for UNHCR’s appeal for Syrian refugees.
- There was also a significant contribution from Australia’s Vietnamese community, which has previously benefited from UNHCR support.
NO! Its not!
SBS’s report is a stark contrast to Tim Costello’s moving article entitled Even Poor Countries Are More Generous to Refugees than Rich Australia: Australia’s efforts would suggest we’re losing a sense of our shared humanity published in the Huffington Post.
Tim draws parallels between Australia’s efforts compared to Uganda (one of the top three refugee hosting countries in the world) and poignantly reflects that:
‘I was profoundly moved to witness how this relatively poor nation has welcomed hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese fleeing famine and war. How can it be that such a poor country does so much to shoulder the humanitarian load when we, rich and prosperous with a per capita income almost 25 times higher, do not?”
It is a sobering and honest point he makes that ‘we’re losing a sense of our shared humanity, which for a country built on migration is, at best, ironic’.
2. Ride for Refugees Event
Aside from wider political and economic furor – cycling and biking events are a great way to promote social issues and get people involved – so today is no exception!
There were many biking events and rides this year, but my cycling event for World Refugee Day 2017 goes to Nepal’s ‘Ride for Refugees’. This is the second year this event has run and 2017 saw a turnout of over 500 people. Spotlight reports that people riding included ‘government officials, diplomats, refugees of diverse nationalities and local residents of the Kathmandu Valley showed their solidarity with refugees — both in Nepal and globally — by participating in the second annual “Ride for Refugees” cycle rally south of Patan’.
Aside from riding in the critical mass event with all the locals, celebrities, ex-pats, supports and the like, Kathmandu is hosting an array of ‘Refugee’ events throughout the city including a photo exhibition, site visits and discussion meetings.
3. The Nashville Food Project Celebration
To keep the fun and community in perspective I’d like to acknowledge a smaller grassroots honorable mention from last year (2015) – undertaken by The Nashville Food Project. You cannot go wrong with friends, family, food and farming!
As stated on their website, this lovely inclusive event was a collaboration and art project for World Refugee Day included such a meal. The Nashville Food Project joined friends from the First Center for the Visual Arts, the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee, Oasis Center and members of their International Teen Outreach Program, Bhutanese gardeners and neighborhood gardeners at the Wedgewood Urban Garden.
“I just loved sharing a meal with all these people who came together around growing food, volunteerism, making art and celebrating World Refugee Day,” said TNFP Garden Manager Christina Bentrup. “There were people and foods from both around the world and from different neighborhoods around Nashville, It was a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-generational group of folks celebrating community and diversity. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
The group also turned recycled bicycle parts into art for the garden (see below) and then had a big community pot luck lunch together!!
At the end of the event description on their website is a great squash recipe, which to me highlights the significant interconnection between community, food and garden.
What a wonderful way to celebrate the day!
How did you celebrate World Refugee Day 2017?
How about next year planning some grand celebratory biking plans that will bring together locals, refugees and community?
Infuse it with welcomeness, fun, inclusivity and of course… biking!!
Best of luck for next year’s bike-themed World Refugee Day event!
*Note the two news articles used for point ‘1. Is Australia really helping the Refugee Crisis enough?’ should be taken as a stimulus to explore your own reflections (and reasons for your answer) to this question. The two articles included have been artbitrarily selected as two opposing points of view on this topic and are not to be taken as definitive or sole proof of (or any other variation of) this position. So please use your amazing brain. Research and make you own mind up based on the best quality and relevant information.