World Refugee Day in Malta
June 20th marks World Refugee Day – an opportunity to show solidarity with millions of people forced to flee their homes, and to promote international action on global refugee issues. Yesterday MOAS attended a UNHCR Refugee Day event in Valletta, Malta.
With the UNHCR announcing this week that it registered 25.9 million refugees in 2018, it is more urgent than ever to ensure that we listen to, understand and act upon the experiences of forcibly displaced people.
Last night’s speakers included refugees living in Malta, who talked about the challenges of rebuilding their lives after their traumatic journeys. We also heard from humanitarian workers who inspired us with stories of solidarity, and explained how they became involved in supporting refugees. A discussion with the speakers was followed by a screening organised by the Valletta Film Festival, showing short films focused on issues of diversity, integration and inclusion.
We were fortunate to be involved in a fascinating discussion with Elisabetta Brumat, who has been working for the UNHCR in Syria for over two years. Brunet spoked about the unique complexity of the Syrian conflict, the challenges facing internally displaced people, and the impressive resilience of the refugees she has encountered.
Brumat’s unwavering determination to continue delivering vital aid in an incredibly difficult context was certainly inspiring, but it was her message of hope that was most poignant: she said her optimism comes from witnessing the outstanding resilience of Syrian refugees, determined to create a better future for themselves and their country. Refugees returning to Syria to find a devastating lack of infrastructure – she told us – always ask the same question, before any other: “When will my children be able to go to school?”
For us, the essence of World Refugee Day is an expression of solidarity, commitment and hope. Meeting a diverse group of people whose lives have been shaped by the refugee experience has left us feeling more motivated than ever to support and advocate for the world’s most vulnerable refugee communities.