“Refugees are people just like us, like everyone else, but war has taken away their home, work, relatives, and friends. Their stories and faces call on our hospitality, to renew our commitment to build peace in justice.” The words Pope Francis pronounced yesterday after the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square echoed today, on June 20, the day in which we celebrate World Refugee Day, an annual event wanted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, whose aim for over ten years has been to raise public awareness about the condition, often unknown to most people, of this particular group of migrants.
With the World Refugee Day, UNHCR (UN’s main organization at the forefront to save lives, protect the rights of millions refugees, displaced and stateless people, and to build a better future for them) wants to invite the audience to reflect on the millions of refugees and asylum seekers who are forced to flee from war and violence, leaving their loved ones, homes, and everything that was once part of their lives. But above all, it wants to never forget that behind each one of them there is a story that deserves to be heard. Stories of suffering and humiliation, but also stories of people who want to start rebuilding their future.
Moments of meeting, parties, music, and dances. Several events have been organized in Italy to celebrate this day. One of the main ones is the concert sponsored by the UN High Commission for Refugees. The Visarno Arena in Florence will host #withrefugees, the music marathon whose aim is to raise awareness about the condition of over 60 million refugees around the world. On a global level, one person in 122 is a refugee, an internally displaced person or asylum seeker at present.
Marlene Kuntz, Ministri, Il Teatro degli Orrori, IoSonoUnCane, Paolo Benvegnù, Piotta, Mau Mau, Selton, Sandro Joyeux, Verano, C+C=Maxigross, General Stratocuster & The Marshals, and Cosmo. These are the artists who answered UNHCR’s call and who will follow one another on the Florentine stage starting from 5.30 p.m., with Noah Stewart’s and Sacha Puttnam’s extraordinary presence. The two of them will perform “You’ll never walk alone” in a new version.
Music has always been a tool for dialogue and encounter between different peoples and cultures. For World Refugee Day 2016, the organization has decided to create a concert, whose protagonists would be contemporary Italian rock bands, bringing on stage the best bands of the national independent scene. During the concert you will have the opportunity to hear both the stories of those who have been forced to flee because of war, persecution, and human rights violation, and some of the many experiences of good reception and integration throughout Italy. #withrefugees wants to be a day of celebration and participation, give a strong signal of solidarity to all the refugees and also to remember those who lost their lives at sea in search of protection and security.
The data on the migration flows in these first months of 2016 send shivers down your spine. Over 3,400 migrants have died or went missing while attempting to cross borders worldwide. 80% of them concern the routes for Europe. These are the estimates of the World Organisation for Migration (WOM). The figure is higher by 12% compared to the first five months of 2015, while the most lethal route for migrants around the world – said Frank Laczko, head of the WOM Analysis Center in Berlin – the Mediterranean Sea and its route between North Africa and Italy has become the most dangerous passage in the world.
As for Italy, the number of migrants and refugees who have arrived to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea since the beginning of 2016 exceeds 210 thousand. Moreover, according to the latest estimates released by WOM, 210,643 immigrants and refugees have come to Europe by sea from the beginning of 2016 to 12 June, with arrivals to Italy (51,956), Greece (157,298), Cyprus (28) and Spain (1,352). The highest number of deaths (2,438) was recorded on the central route between North Africa and Italy.