World Refugee Day 2021

World Refugee Day

17 Jun 21

On Wednesday, June 16, 2021, the Turkish Heritage Organization hosted a virtual discussion for World Refugee Day. The event featured Philippe Leclerc, the Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey. This thoughtful event was moderated by Lina Sergie Attar, Founder & CEO of the Karam Foundation.

To start off the conversation, Lina Sergie Attar highlighted the story of a Syrian refugee, Yousif, to showcase what Syrian refugees are capable of and that they are not “burdens to society, but are contributors.” 

In explaining the significance of World Refugee Day, Phillip Leclerc highlighted the “resilience and capacity for refugees to continue their lives,” the help of local communities and “the will to continue.” Phillip Leclerc commemorated health, education and sports in honoring World Refugee Day this year. These aspects include COVID-19, education in the host countries, and possibly participating in the Olympics in Japan.

Additionally, Phillip Leclerc relayed his appreciation towards Turkey to host Syrian refugees, and the pride of Turkish citizens to host people who have fled their country of origin. He continued to add the low likelihood of their return to Syria in the near future due to unsafe conditions. Due to that, Phillip Leclerc described “Turkey should not be left alone, which is why we advocate the shared responsibility of resettlement programs” in order to improve the lives of refugees. 

Furthermore, the shared time between host countries and refugees brings challenges, but triumphs as well. Expanding upon their relationship, Phillip Leclerc explains that “we work together to overcome the prejudices” and show that “refugees can contribute to society.” To better the relationship, Phillip Leclerc illustrates that the “acquisition of skills are important for the refugees and benefits the host countries.” 

Nearing the end of the conversation, Phillip Leclerc emphasized the need for burden-sharing between countries to help refugees. To explain this, he underscored the need for “more support to be applied to Turkey by other countries not neighboring Syria.” Moreover, the vulnerability of refugees needs to be addressed in order to better the lives of the refugees.