On Monday 20 June 2011 we celebrate World Refugee Day. For millions of refugees around the world, the day is another spent in urgent need of basic material, social and legal protection. For the rest of us, the day represents a call to action, an opportunity to focus our efforts on improving the lives of forcibly displaced persons, both here in Cyprus and across the globe.
Since 1951, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been working tirelessly in order to protect this particularly vulnerable group. Such work takes many forms, from ensuring that refugees are secure and safe from violent persecution to providing assistance to those wishing to return to their homes. Over 50 million people have received support from UNHCR since its inception. Today, it continues to provide assistance to refugees and populations of concern, helping some 30 million people in over 110 countries restart their lives with dignity.
In Cyprus, Future Worlds Center (FWC) implements the “Strengthening Asylum for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Cyprus” project which is funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide social and legal assistance to asylum seekers and persons under international protection. Its main objective is to ensure that beneficiaries have access to a fair and efficient asylum procedure and their rights based on national, European and International law. The scope of the project also includes raising awareness within the community on refugee and asylum issues, promoting the increase of rights of this population, as well as supporting and encouraging the integration of refugees into the local society. FWC this year also strongly supports the event organised by UNHCR to honour refugees and embrace their efforts for survival and human dignity. Accordingly, on the occasion of this World Refugee Day, UNHCR and the Pool of Trainers of the Council of Europe is organising a Living Library with Refugees, which will take place on 21 June at the House of the European Union, at 6.00-10.00 p.m. we encourage people in Cyprus to come and 'read' with us.
As the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has noted “refugees show incredible courage and perseverance in overcoming enormous odds to rebuild their lives. Ensuring that they get the protection they deserve is a noble cause because refugee rights are human rights – and rights that belong to us all”. On World Refugee Day, Future Worlds Center calls on each individual citizen to rise to the challenge of responsibility and play their part in the protection of refugees, guaranteeing dignity and justice for all.