World Refugee Day – Celebrating the Courage of Refugees Through Art

This upcoming June 20th marks World Refugee Day, a moment to recognize the strength, courage, and resilience of refugees, asylum seekers, and all displaced people whose lives have been uprooted by crisis. 

From the conflict zones of Syria, to the threat of famine in Yemen, to Central American families seeking safety at the US border, there are now more than 80 million people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes. Unfortunately, these record-breaking statistics come at a time when the most vulnerable communities face a double emergency: conflict and displacement itself, alongside COVID-19 and the long-term economic crisis it has triggered.

Zahara Adem, 10 and Shenkeron Abdi, 13 are best friends. Zahara and Shenkeron are part of Girl Shine at Helowyn camp, Somali region.

 Now, as much of our world is beginning to return to normalcy and as vaccines continue to be administered around the globe, the international community must work together to ensure refugees are not left behind.

At the International Rescue Committee, we have teams in over 40 countries and over 20 US cities, providing immediate relief to refugees at the onset of a crisis, and helping them rebuild their lives once they have settled into their new communities. While it is critical to recognize the ongoing struggles and obstacles facing refugees, World Refugee Day is also a time to celebrate their resilience and contributions, and how accepting displaced people into our communities makes the world a better place.

For 2021, we are continuing to put the spotlight on refugee heroes and recognize how courage and creativity in the displaced experience have intersected to forge a way forward. This year’s campaign will put a specific emphasis on the unique contributions of refugee artists, who are providing hope, inspiration, passion, and belonging.

Throughout the pandemic, art has played an important role in so many of our lives. During times of crisis, art especially has the power to move, inspire, and unite, and to help us feel more connected and less alone during this unprecedented moment in history. Across the IRC’s digital media channels and live activations, refugee artists – including painters, dancers, musicians, and more – will “take over” the internet in a celebration of courage and creativity.

A Syrian refugee girl watercolors a heart at a children’s play area at an IRC women’s center at Zaatari camp. While women meet to take part in programming, the IRC provides a space for children to play.

With so much inspirational content being celebrated, there are many ways to participate in the IRC’s campaign and to use your own platform to show that you stand with refugees:

  • Share Refugee Art: Take part in the IRC’s digital campaign and share content from our social media channels. We will have an original illustration created by a refugee artist for supporters to share far and wide on their social media feeds. The illustration will be complemented by our marquee artist videos, adding up to a “takeover” of the internet with refugee art.
  • Attend our Virtual Summit on Refugee Resettlement in the US: The IRC is bringing together refugee voices, policymakers, and experts to discuss how the US can improve its refugee integration processes and provide stronger education and economic conditions for refugees. Be sure to register for part or all of the event here.
  • Learn more at for more ways to support the IRC.