Live Blog: World Refugee Day kicks off amid record displacement

From Asia to the Americas, UNHCR is leading celebrations of the lives of men, women and children finding new hope after escaping danger.

Participants ride on Sunday in a bicycle rally organized by UNHCR to mark World Refugee Day 2016 in Kathmandu, Nepal.
© UNHCR/Navesh Chitrakar

GENEVA, June 20 (UNHCR) – Millions of people across the globe, led by artists, musicians and even chefs, are marking World Refugee Day with a series of celebratory events that stand in stark contrast to grim figures showing that wars and persecution have driven more people from their homes than at any time since records began.

From Asia to the Americas, people are using the event – which falls each year on June 20 – to honour the courage and resilience of those who have been forced to flee their homes to reach safety. Many are also promoting UNHCR's petition by showing that they stand #WithRefugees. Check back here throughout the day for updates.

Baghdad, Iraq

Renowned oud player Naseer Shamma today entertained residents of Al Salam camp in Baghdad with a concert resonating wtih history. The stringed instrument dates back thousands of years to the early pharaonic era.


Nairobi, Kenya

A refugee team is set to make history in August when they compete in the Olympic Games under the IOC flag. At the heart of the team are five South Sudanese runners. They were serenaded at a ceremony in Nairobi today, along with their trainer, Tegla Loroupe, the world champion Kenyan runner who started a foundation to promote peace through sports.


Paris, France

Ten restaurants across Paris are taking part in the three-day Refugee Food Festival. Refugee chefs are pulling on uniforms and cooking up dishes from their countries of origin. The dishes are then placed on the menu.


New Delhi, India

On a typical day, 2.4 million commuters ride New Delhi’s bustling 160-stop metro system. On World Refugee Day, commuters passing through Rajiv Chowk, the subway’s busiest station, took a moment to stand #WithRefugees.


Kathmandu, Nepal

Cyclists took to the streets of the Nepali capital on Sunday in solidarity with more than 65 million people driven from their homes around the world by war and persecution. In Nepal itself, more than 500,000 people lost their homes when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake tore through the Himalayan kingdom in April 2015, flattening thousands of villages and towns and seriously damaging the capital.


Tehran, Iran

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi marked World Refugee Day with UNHCR colleagues in the Iranian capital on Saturday. Grandi praised Iran for its decades-long work helping millions of refugees at great cost. He also noted that the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan made it very difficult for people to go back. The priority now, he said, is helping young refugees.


Damascus, Syria

UNHCR colleagues in the Syrian capital marked World Refugee Day a little early with a friendly game of football. Joining them on the pitch were refugees from Somalia, Sudan and Iraq – who fled their own countries but are now surrounded by another conflict – as well as staff from other UN agencies working inside Syria.


Yaoundé, Cameroon

A walk through the Cameroonian capital in solidarity with refugeees drew a spirited turnout on Saturday. Cameroon is generously hosting 350,000 refugees from Central African Republic, Nigeria and Sudan.


Dublin, Ireland

The 6th Fair Play Football cup kicked off over the weekend with a high-profile supporter in the stands: Irish President Michael Higgins. Some 20 teams with 500 participants – including refugees, asylum-seekers and other players – are taking part in the tournament this year.


Lesvos, Greece

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met refugees this weekend on the Greek island of Lesvos, which became a key entry point last year for refugees seeking safety in Europe. He called on countries in the region to respond with a humane and human rights-based approach, instead of border closures, barriers and bigotry. “Today, I met refugees from some of the world's most troubled places," Ban said. "They have lived through a nightmare. And that nightmare is not over.”