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City Council recognizes World Refugee Day

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City Council

Every minute, 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror, and environmental disasters.

The United Nations annually recognizes June 20th as World Refugee Day to honor refugees around the globe, in celebration of the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution.

World Refugee Day was held globally for the first time on June 20, 2001, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and it continues to be an occasion to build empathy and understanding for the plight of refugees and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives. The rights of refugees contained in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees include:

The right not to be expelled, except under certain, strictly defined conditions
The right not to be punished for illegal entry into the territory of a contracting State
The right to work
The right to housing
The right to education
The right to public relief and assistance
The right to freedom of religion
The right to access the courts
The right to freedom of movement within the territory
The right to be issued identity and travel documents

According to Refugee Council USA, Massachusetts residents have played a vital role in the resettlement program and refugees have positively contributed to Massachusetts communities. In 2016, Massachusetts welcomed 1,734 refugees, 194 unaccompanied refugee minors, and 1,541 unaccompanied children who were released to the care and custody of sponsors. Since 2009, the number of refugee arrivals to Massachusetts each year has averaged between 1,400 and 1,900, according to Boston Indicators.

Boston and Massachusetts have become home to refugees who have made significant contributions, including those who are Vietnamese, Cambodian, Iraqi, Bhutanese, Burmese, Somalian, Congolese, Syrian, Ukrainian, and much more.

During this week’s Council meeting, the Council adopted a resolution recognizing and celebrating June 20, 2021 as World Refugee Day in the City of Boston, and encourages all government agencies, public and private institutions, businesses, and schools to take measures to welcome, support, and affirm the rights of refugees who have made a home in our City, our Commonwealth, and our country.

The City of Boston’s Office of Immigrant Advancement is committed to addressing the concerns and needs of the City’s immigrant and refugee communities. Boston has extended its policy as a sanctuary City and passed the The Safe Communities Act in 2019 which aims to restore community trust in public institutions by avoiding entanglement in immigration matters, and protect due process for all.

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