World Refugee Day

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English Language Partners is very proud to share writings from our former-refugee learners, now safe and supported here in New Zealand.

Words by Masu. Art by her son Bay Shi Oo.

World Refugee Day is on 20 June every year because the United Nations General Assembly decided on 4 December 2000 to celebrate 50 years of the Refugee Convention.

It is a day to remember refugees.

“A refugee is someone who flees his/her home and country owing to a well- founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”

“Every minute, 24 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror.”

The Refugee Petition asks governments to ensure every refugee child gets an education, ensure every refugee family has somewhere safe to live, and ensure every refugee can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution to their community.

In multicultural NZ, we talk about policies for refugees. NZ is having elections this year, so political parties need to show they will follow the UN convention because we are a global citizen. Our immigration annual quota is 750 people and was increased to 1,000.

NZers celebrate WRD in Mangere, Auckland, Hamilton, Taupo, Palmerston North, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch with movies, talks, song, dance, meetings and food.

I am a refugee from Myanmar. I came from a Thailand refugee camp. I lived in the camp for about 20 years and in 2006 the UNHCR opened the door for refugee people to resettle in a third country. A lot of refugee people resettled in USA. A small number of refugee people went to other countries. I got the chance to resettle in NZ. I am happy to live in NZ. It is a beautiful, peaceful, lovely country. We were taken good care of and have good opportunities for jobs, education, food and a place to live.

It is important for NZers to think about refugees, especially on WRD so they will take action and provide friendship and practical support for former refugees.

Masu asked her 12-year-old son Bay Shi Oo to draw something about what he remembered living in the camp before the family came to NZ in 2014.
We are proud to share his drawing below, showing the contrasts in housing, football and food between the camp in Thailand and NZ.  It is a fabulous drawing with a lot of details. Well done Bay Shi Oo!
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