Rome (Italy). World Refugee Day is celebrated on 20 June 2023, promoted by the United Nations since 2001 to raise public awareness of the condition of millions of refugees and asylum seekers who, forced to flee conflicts, violence, and persecution, leave their own family members, home, and securities to seek safety in another Country.

According to the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, a refugee is a person who has fled their home and country out of “a well-founded fear of being persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or opinion politics.” Many today are also in exile to escape the effects of natural or man-made disasters.

Hope away from home is the theme of the Day 2023, with which we want to highlight the importance of long-term solutions for refugees and the power of inclusion. Regardless of the length of exile, refugees want to rebuild their lives in the host community, receiving an education, providing for their families, making friends. Inclusion of refugees is the most effective way to support them in resuming their lives and the best way to prepare them to return to their respective countries safely and voluntarily when conditions allow.

On the occasion of the day, the UNHCR, the UN agency for refugees, launches the report Global Trends 2022,

which presents the main trends and the latest official statistics on refugees, asylum seekers, internally stateless persons, and stateless people in the world.

At the end of 2022, 108.4 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations, and other events. Contributing to the unprecedented increase of 19.1 million compared to the previous year, is the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, together with those in other parts of the world, and the upheavals caused by the climate. These events force millions of people to flee, often without alternatives, willing to put their lives and those of their loved ones at risk in order to pursue a hope of life.

Pope Francis, in the Angelus of 18 June 2023, recalling the celebration of the Day, expressed his pain for the recent shipwreck thus, “with great sadness and much pain I think of the victims of the very serious shipwreck that occurred in recent days off the coast of Greece. And it seems that the sea was calm. I renew my prayers for those who have lost their lives and I implore that everything possible always be done to prevent similar tragedies.”

In a video based on the Pope’s Message for the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees which will be celebrated on Sunday 24 September 2023, on the theme “Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay,” Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, Secretary of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, says:

“Many people are forced to flee from destruction, from fear, from misery. Indeed persecutions, wars, climate crisis, extreme poverty are among the most visible causes of ‘forced’ migrations. To eliminate these causes and thus put an end to forced migration, the common commitment of everyone is necessary, each according to his or her own responsibility”.

The video continues with the testimony of Melanie Martínez, who in a project of Servicio Jesuita in Refugiados (SJR) – Colombia takes care of local young people through recreational and educational activities, thus keeping them away from the streets.

Sr. Alessandra ends with this question:

What are we doing to create a world of justice and peace for all?

and invites you to share your answer by writing to:


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