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Thursday, June 20: Day 59 – World Refugee Day

Today we went to a picnic to celebrate World Refugee Day. This is the culiminating event where ALL the refugee chefs will gather and bring dishes from their native countries.

We are to bring food from our country as well. What would YOU bring? Rob says Cheetos and Coke. I say Brownies. We went to the stop store and bought Peanuts.

There were world games:

There was world music:

There were art displays:

There was an impassioned roundtable discussion about the integration of refugees into society.

Prior to the picnic, we marched in a white umbrella parade. An umbrella is the symbol of care for refugees. Can you find Rob?

According to the latest statistics available, 68.5 million people have been forced to leave their homes worldwide:

40 million have fled somewhere else in their own country

25.4 million have left their country as refugees

3.1 million are seeking asylum and argue they can never return home.

Of the 25 million who have left their homeland, around two-thirds have come from just five countries: South Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, Myanmar and Somalia. Peace and good government in these lands would solve most of the global refugee crisis.

85% of the world’s displaced people are hosted in developing countries. The top refugee-hosting countries – and rarely praised by the global community for this – are Turkey, Uganda, Pakistan, Lebanon and Iran. In Lebanon, one in six of the population is a refugee.

More than statistics, refugees are, first and foremost, artists, engineers, doctors, chiefs, etc. The arrival of refugees is not a crisis, but an opportunity to welcome talents and skills that can enrich our society. Did you know that Marc Chagall and Albert Einstein were refugees?

Every year, in June, hundreds of restaurants entrust their kitchens to refugee leaders as part of the Refugee Food Festival.

Cities participating this year are Paris, Lille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille, Strasbourg, Rennes, Brussels, New York, Cape Town, London, Madrid, Bologna, Geneva, and Copenhagen.

In every city, the Refugee Food Festival is organized by volunteer citizens. Their commitment allows the project to accomplish its missions:

-To change our look on the refugees through cuisine

-To discover the socio-professional refugee cooks and flavors from elsewhere.

We left with bellies full of international food, with greater understanding of the lives of refugees such as our new friend Ahmer, and with a knowledge of how communities can respond positively to refugees.

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