World Refugee Day: What to read, watch, listen and do...

World Refugee Day is an annual day celebrated on June 20. This day is dedicated to raising awareness and recognizing the courage, resilience and contributions of refugees around the world. It is an opportunity to show solidarity and advocate for the protection and support of people forced to flee their homelands because of conflict, war or persecution. World Refugee Day reminds us to recognize the challenges refugees face and to strive for inclusion, respect and empathy for their experiences. In this blog, we share things you can do, read, watch or listen to leading up to this day.

Watching: My father, Nour and me

After 20 years, filmmaker Wiam Al-Zabari engages in a conversation with his father. Why did they flee Iraq? Why was that never discussed? Will he manage to let go of the past and embrace a Dutch future?

When he was 13, Wiam Al-Zabari fled Iraq with his mother, brother and sister. During this fearful period, however, his father was absent. Now Wiam undertakes a loving and intense search for the history of his father and family. Told in a moving, personal message to his own son Nour.

Watch the documentary here.

Watch: Matar

Directed by Bafta award-winning director, Hassan Akkad, MATAR is an original production by WaterBear. It follows the story of an asylum seeker in England who, faced with the hostile immigration system in the United Kingdom, is forced to live on the fringes of society and rely on his bicycle to survive.

A powerful and moving story of resilience and perseverance, based on the experiences of co-writer Ayman Alhussein.

Watch the film here.

Do: Night of the Refugee

Participants cover a distance of 40 or 20 kilometers to raise money for emergency relief for people forced to flee because of war, conflict and oppression. You can choose to participate individually or as part of a team.

The fourteenth edition of the Night of the Refuge will take place on the weekend of Saturday, June 17 to Sunday, June 18, 2023. More information will follow soon.

More information can be found here.

Do: 'Samen Hier' (Be here together)

You can form a group with your neighbors, friends, colleagues or acquaintances, consisting of three to five people. After registering with Samen Hier, a match is made with a (resettled) refugee or a refugee family. For one year, you will go out together. During this year, you act as the main contact for the newcomer(s) and build a unique bond. You offer practical support and help them settle in their new place of residence.

You can sign up here.

Reading: Only the mountains are my friends

In 2013, Kurdish poet and journalist Behrouz Boochani tried to flee to Australia. Instead of finding protection there, he was intercepted at sea and taken to Manus Island, where he was illegally imprisoned in what is known as the "Australian Gulag" and the "Australian Guantanamo. He stayed there until September 2019.

During his captivity, Boochani secretly wrote "Only the mountains are my friends," using a phone that he had to keep hidden from the guards. He smuggled his story via text messages from the island.

Order the book here.

Reading: Bede to the Sea

On Sept. 2, 2015, three-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on the coast of Turkey. His family was trying to flee Syria and find a safe haven in Europe. Khaled Hosseini was once a young refugee himself, far from his homeland of Afghanistan. This experience always plays an important role in his novels and his humanitarian work. In "Bede by the Sea," these worlds come together. It is an unforgettable story about the plight of refugees, with beautiful illustrations by Dan Williams.

Order the book here.

Reading: Dossier After the Emergency Shelter

For six weeks last winter, the Bethel Church in The Hague hosted a group of male refugees who had to sleep on the ground in Ter Apel because there was no room for them. After six weeks, the group of men returned to Ter Apel. This dossier describes the refugees' personal experiences, from the moment they arrived in the Netherlands.

"That was a difficult decision, which we made with pain in our hearts. Because what were we doing right? We were almost certain that in terms of reception they would be worse off."

Read the dossier here.

Listening: Flight Numbers

In the podcast series "Flight Numbers," refugees share their personal and often poignant stories, using music clips. They tell what music gave them courage during the most challenging moments of their flight and what music now offers them strength and stability in their new life in another country.

Listening: Forced to Flee

"Forced to Flee" is UNHCR's new podcast, telling extraordinary stories of people who have experienced tumultuous events over the past 70 years. We hear about mothers who braved pirates while fleeing Vietnam, orphans who discovered their vocation thanks to disposable cameras, and musicians from Venezuela who found hope in a new orchestra. It also highlights the stories of humanitarian workers who have worked for decades to protect forcibly displaced people. This podcast covers major post-war emergencies and takes a look to the future, challenging the world to respond to the record number of forced displacements.