Today, 20th June 2022, is World Refugee Day
This day, first marked in 2001, is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees wherever they are. It recognises and celebrates the strength and courage of all those who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. It is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.
Each year the day has a theme and this year that theme is the right to seek safety. Under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
Co-operatives have often been at the forefront of supporting those seeking safety. Last year, the Co-op Foundation awarded a £250,000 grant to Refugee Action, and laid the foundations for Co-op members, Co-op Academies and Member Pioneers to get involved in providing further support. In Ukraine, co-op workers have been taking refugees displaced from occupied areas into their homes. And in Poland, credit unions have been at the forefront of providing humanitarian relief, and welcoming Ukrainian refugees. This document on the International Labour Organisation website highlights further examples of co-ops supporting refugees in recent decades.
Today, and through Refugee Week, (check out the full range of events running here) we hope you will join us in celebrating the innovative creativity and resilience of refugees and other people seeking sanctuary. When even the history of that ‘British’ classic fish and chips can be traced back to the kitchens of Jewish immigrants, it is clear that their contribution is so vast as to have become woven into the fabric of our society.