World Refugee Day: seeking safety is a human right

Date 20.06.2022

Every year, World Refugee Day is celebrated on June 20.

Every year, thousands of people are forced to leave their homes, their lives, to seek elsewhere that safety they have lost due to war, persecution, economic or climate crises.

Some had no time at all to take anything with them, while others were able to choose a few essential items to accompany them on their escape.

Five refugees told us the story of an object they were able to take with them.
They explained to us why they could not leave it behind and how they can find a sense of security in it, which helps them feel at home.

This in fact is the theme of this year's World Refugee Day: "Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. Everyone has the right to seek safety." (UNHCR)

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Amira Eid Al Jassem
37 years old

Amira fled Syria with her entire family, due to the war.
She found refuge in Lebanon, where, however, the severe economic crisis causes many difficulties in their everyday life.
Thanks to the Distance Support project, she and her children receive the help they need.

Among the few items she was able to take with her are the keys to their home in Syria.
Looking at them, she remembers the times when they were living in peace: when they all sat around the table to have dinner together, when she closed the door behind her to go on errands.

These are the stories she tells her five children, who were all born in Lebanon, showing them the keys.
She hopes that one day they will all be able to go back to their country together and use them to open the door to their home.

Munezero Sauda
40 years old

In 2016, Munezero, her two children and her husband were forced to leave the Democratic Republic of the Congo because of tribal conflicts that put their lives in danger.
They managed to escape to Burundi and they also took in with them the four children of Munezero's brother-in-law, who lost his life shortly before they managed to escape.

While her husband is looking for a job, Munezero can provide for her family by growing and selling vegetables. This small business is the result of the savings groups organized through the "Protection, Health and Livelihoods for Refugees in Burundi" project, funded by the European Union.

The most important object she managed to bring with her as they fled was a gold necklace. It could have saved their lives, she explains, had they encountered checkpoints in crossing the border into Burundi.

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Bernadette Cimanuka Amina
23 years old

Bernadette fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo without being able to take anything with her.
Taking refuge in Uganda with her family, she found herself in poverty. None of them had the means to support themselves.

Here, however, she met Zubert, a tailor who had also fled the Congo. He became her husband shortly thereafter.
Zubert, while fleeing, had managed to save his sewing machine. This object changed both their lives, bringing them together and giving them the foundation on which to create their new family.

In fact, thanks to the USAID-funded "Graduating to Resilience" project, Bernadette and Zubert received the support they needed to rebuild their own business.

Rose Nizeyimana
33 years old

After her father's death, Rose left Rwanda and escaped to Kenya when she was just a little girl.
She has now become an example of strength and hope for all young women in her community.

Thanks to the "IDEA" project dedicated to urban refugees, she received specific training focused on tailoring, fashion and design. She will also receive the necessary tools to start her own start-up in this field, thus being able to provide for her two children.
This initiative is funded by AVAID and Swiss Coop.

All she has left from her childhood in Rwanda is a Bible, which she has chosen to keep with her as she believes it represents a source of reconciliation and forgiveness.

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Elena Shevchenko
38 years old

Elena fled her home because of the war that broke out in Ukraine in February 2022, along with her two daughters.
The only things she managed to take with her were their birth certificates and an embroidery kit.

She believes this kit might help her find a job in Italy, but she also brought it with her to keep alive the memory of her mother. She taught her how to sew and she remained in Ukraine.

Elena is full of energy and, despite the tragedy she has experienced and the concern for her family members left behind in Ukraine, she always has a big smile on her face.

Elena and her daughters found safety in Milan thanks to the #HelpUkraine Hub, which allowed the three women to get in touch with a family who had the desire and the possibility to offer them a room.
At the Hub, mom and daughters are also participating in Italian language classes.