The City of Alexandria and the Department of Community and Human Services encourages residents to show their solidarity with refugees on World Refugee Day, June 20, by participating in global and local campaigns to show support for 25 million refugees around the world and those who have made their new home in Alexandria.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) sponsors World Refugee Day each year to commemorate the strength, courage and resilience of refugees--individuals who have been forced to leave their countries in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster.
Many refugees endured severe hardships during their escapes and continue to face challenges in their new lives in America, ranging from securing work and housing to learning a new language and adjusting to a new culture. Many are also dealing with the trauma from events they experienced or witnessed during their escape, including violence, torture, rape, murder and the loss of family members and loved ones.
Alexandria is home to thousands of refugees from across the world. According to the New Americans in Alexandria 2018 report, refugees make up almost 17% of the 42,000 immigrants living in Alexandria and work in key industries in the city, including transportation, hospitality and retail--industries hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, residents have the opportunity to participate in local and global campaigns to show their support. City partner Catholic Charities of Arlington is spearheading #StrideWithRefugees, a local campaign to show solidarity with local refugees and draw awareness to how far refugees walk to access basic necessities in a refugee camp. The global UNHCR #StepWithRefugees challenge encourages participants to add their steps to a worldwide count and nominate others to participate. Both campaigns encourage participants to take photos of their activity and post them on social media to increase awareness and show solidarity.
Learn more about these campaigns, how to participate, and other ways to support refugees.