In 1 minute a family can lose everything, in 1 minute you can help them

OTTAWA, June 18, 2013 /CNW/ – While countries around the world prepare to mark World Refugee Day on 20 June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is calling for greater solidarity with refugees and other forcibly displaced.

Through its World Refugee Day 2013 call to action, in 1 minute a family can lose everything, in 1 minute you can help them, UNHCR aims to remind the world how one’s life can change in a minute and how crucial it is to provide refugees with support and understanding.

‘World Refugee Day is a good opportunity for us to pause and reflect on what we can do as individuals to help refugees,’ said Furio De Angelis, UNHCR Representative in Canada. ‘The challenge to solidarity with refugees is more than an issue of compassion when images of human misery are shown on our TV screens, it is also a matter of action’.

According to UNHCR figures, the past 24 months have been some of the most challenging in UNHCR’s history. Multiple concurrent emergencies have forced more people to flee across borders in 2011 and 2012 than in the previous seven years combined. Continuing strife in places like Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan still pose the threat of even more refugee outflows in the coming months.

The call to action will also lead Canadians in their celebration for World Refugee Day this year.  Several events are planned across the country to mark the day.

See Annex 1 for details of UNHCR’s events. A listing of all World Refugee Day events planned across Canada can also be found on


World Refugee Day, June 20, UNHCR commemorates the strength and resilience of the more than 45 million people around the world forced to flee their homes due to war or persecution. Multiple refugee emergencies have forced record numbers of people to flee – yet the vast majority of media coverage given over to the conflicts in Syria, Mali, South Sudan and DRC, rarely focuses on the human cost of war. The 2013 call to action aims to remind the world that the victims of war need our help.

Annex 1
List of UNHCR events

Toronto, ON

When: 20 June 2013, Noon – 3:00 pm

Where: Yonge-Dundas Square


Walk a Mile in a Refugee’s Shoes starting at Nathan Phillips Square City Hall (ramp and location of UNHCR flag) at 11:00 am.

Concert at Yonge-Dundas Square: African Guitar Summit, Robi Botos, Allyson Morris, award winning author Dr. Vincent Lam (Headmaster’s Wager & Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures).

Award ceremony for the UNHCR-COSTI Refugees and Human Rights Child and Youth Poetry Contest. The event will include community exhibits and information booths from agencies working with refugees and asylum seekers.
Details at

At night, the following places will be lit in blue in honour of WRD:

  • Niagara Falls
  • CN Tower
  • Peace Bridge
  • Toronto City Hall

From 18 to 20 June, the UNHCR flag will be raised at Toronto City Hall.

Partners: Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, COSTI Immigrant Services, Sojour House, Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, Canadian Red Cross, Amnesty International Canada, Christie Refugee Welcome Centre, Centre for Refugee Studies, Local Immigration Partnership, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Contact Person: Rana Khan, or Vanessa Dullabh,

Montreal, QC

When: 20 June 2013, 5:30pm7:30pm

Where: Auditorium du Centre d’archives de Montréal, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Édifice Gilles-Hocquart, 535, Viger Ave. East (metro station Berri-Uqam or Champ-de-Mars).

Event: After screening short videos made by resourceful young people on their refugee experience, the audience will have the chance to meet with three youth to hear first-hand how forced migration has impacted their lives and their families, as well as how they have successfully integrated into the fabric of Montreal.

Partners: The Mapping Memories Project of Concordia University

Contact Person: Tania Ghanem,

For all other planned events across Canada, visit

Image with caption: “Three young Syrian girls play in a rundown area of Erbil. The six-year-old in the middle lives with her family in a partially-constructed home. They fled from Syria after a tank entered their neighbourhood and began firing at houses. The girl says she was scared but now feels safe in Iraq. (CNW Group/UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES)”. Image available at:


For further information:

Gisèle Nyembwe, 613-232 0909 ext 225, email:


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