World Refugee Day 2020 Meaning, Dates, Types of Refugees, Significance, Global Measures

World Refugee Day 2020: World Refugee Day 2020 is celebrated on 20 June. The day is designated by the UN as World Refugee Day to draw attention to the increasingly higher levels of human displacement in the world today. This article will tell you about the Meaning of the Day, Significance, Dates, Who is a refugee, Measure taken to protect refugees, Where refugees are found.

Updated: Jun 09, 2020 17:49 IST

World Refugee Day 2020 Meaning, Dates, Types of Refugees, Significance, Global Measures

Suganya Vedham

World Refugee Day 2020

As of 2018, almost 70.8 million people have been forced out of their homes due to conflict all over the world. 30 million of these are refugees and more than half of this demographic are below the age of 18. This is in addition to millions of people who are stateless and have been refused a nationality. They also lack access to rights such as education and healthcare, which makes it difficult for them to lead a life of peace. 

The UNHCR states that around two-thirds of the worldwide count of refugees consists of those from five countries alone: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia, and  Myanmar. The COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have added to their distress as the meager resources available to them are further shrinking.

History of World Refugee Day?

The United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 55/76 on 4 December 2000 which decreed that 20 June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day. The Assembly noted that the following year, 2001 would be the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Hence it was felt that such a day was needed to commemorate the experience of refugees, many of whom had lost their lives, to raise awareness about their plight, and to build support. 

 Who are Refugees?

A refugee may be understood to be a displaced person who had to cross national boundaries due to unfavourable circumstances and thereby cannot return safely. They are said to “forcibly displaced” people. According to the UN, refugees are only one type within this group.

The other kinds are:

Asylum Seekers

Asylum seekers are those people who have left their home countries, like refugees but have not been recognized such as the country that they fled to.   

Internally Displaced Persons

Persons who have moved to another  region  within their own country, without  having  crossed an international boundary are called Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) 

Stateless Persons

Those who lack a recognized nationality and thereby not belong to any country are deemed to be stateless. These situations are, for the most part, caused by discrimination against particular groups. Lack of documents, like a citizenship certificate, can strip them of basic services like education and employment. 


These are erstwhile refugees who return to their home countries. They require continuous support and assistance to reintegrate themselves into society and build a life for themselves. 

What is the measure taken to protect refugees?

The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol have been devised to protect refugees as they form one of the most vulnerable sections of society. The Convention details a number of rights that have to be accorded to a refugee and also mentions the obligations of the refugees towards the county that hosts them. The principle of non-refoulment is the centre of the document. This principle states that a refugee must not be returned to the place of their origin where they face grave threats to their life or freedom.

Some of the rights protected by the Convention are as follows:

  • The right not to be dismissed, with the exception of under particular, defined conditions;

  • The right not to be punished for illegal entry into a host State;

  • The right to engage in employment;

  • The right to proper houses;

  • The right to educate themselves;

  • The right to social welfare and support;

  • The right to freedom of religion;

  • The right to access courts;

  • The right to move freely within the state;

  • The right to be given the appropriate identity and travel documents.


United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the United Nations Refugee Agency. It is an organization with a global reach that is meant for the purpose of saving lives of those endangered by conflict, protecting their rights, and contributing towards a brighter future for refugees, stateless people, and those who are forcibly displaced. It was established on December 14, 1950, after World War II to aid  Europeans who were displaced by the war. It was instituted for a three year period to address the consequences of the war but was continued after the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was adopted on 28 July 1951. 

What is 2019 Theme for World Refugee Day?

The theme that described World Refugee Day 2019 was #StepWithRefugees - Take A Step on World Refugee Various sections of the society like schools,  faith groups, and businesses were encouraged to take steps that would express solidarity with the life of refugees. Amidst ongoing pandemic in 2020, the UN chief, António Guterres reminded countries of their obligation to protect refugees as they were more susceptible to the consequences brought by the onslaught of the disease.

World Refugee Day Special Quotes

“To be called a refugee is the opposite of an insult; it is a badge of strength, courage, and victory.” - Tennessee Office for Refugees

“No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.” - Warsan Shire

“A refugee is someone who survived and who can create the future.” - Amela Koluder

“Refugees are not terrorists. They are often the first victims of terrorism.” - António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres

“Refugees didn’t just escape a place. They had to escape a thousand memories until they’d put enough time and distance between them and their misery to wake to a better day.” - Nadia Hashimi

“We have a legal and moral obligation to protect people fleeing bombs, bullets and tyrants, and throughout history those people have enriched our society.” - Juliet Stevenson

World Refugee Day - FAQ

1. What are the problems faced by refugees?

All over the world, refugees face problems with pushing for legal recognition and personal documents and accessing education, healthcare, and skills. They also face discrimination, racism, xenophobia, gender inequality, violence, and reduced security.

2. What is unique about refugees?

Refugees are particularly defined by international law and protected by it. They are people who are forced out of their country of origin due to fear of persecution, violence, war, or other conditions that destroyed public order. As a result, they require protection.

3. What is the 1951 UN Convention?

The 1951 Refugee Convention is the central legal document that forms the foundation of the work done by UNHCR, the Refugee Agency of the UN. It has been ratified? by 145 countries. It gives the definition of the term ‘refugee’ and details their various rights and mentions the legal obligations of States in protecting them.

4. Are migrants also refugees?

The term ‘migrant’ is not internationally defined. It is sometimes used as an umbrella term for displaced people. However, the  UNHCR  refers to ‘refugees’ and ‘migrants’ separately, to ensure clarity about refugee movements.

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