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WORLD REFUGEE DAY: Salesians Give Refugees “New Beginnings”

(MissionNewswire) The international community celebrated World Refugee Day on June 20 – which is recognized annually as the day to focus on the plight of millions of families around the globe that have lost their homes to violence and war and to advocate on their behalf. World Refugee Day 2012 was coordinated by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHRC.

Coordinating with Africa Refugee Day, which had been celebrated for many years on June 20, the UN General Assembly celebrated the first World Refugee day in 2001. This day also marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. World Refugee Day was established to honor the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. Almost 80 percent of all refugees are women and children.

Each year, World Refugee Day reflects on specific struggles faced by refugees. This year’s theme is “Refugees have no choice. You do.”

UNHCR marked World Refugee Day by rolling out a new campaign, “Dilemmas.”  This campaign depicts the tough choices refugees face. The goal is to help the public empathize with and understand the dilemmas faced by refugee populations. According to the United Nations, there were 42.5 million people forcibly displaced at the end of 2011.

“We must work together to mobilize the political will and leadership to prevent and end the conflicts that trigger refugee flows. […] Despite budget constraints everywhere, we must not turn away from those in need. Refugees leave because they have no choice. We must choose to help,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Salesian Missions is one such group tackling some of the challenges faced by refugees. When forced to leave their home countries to save themselves from violence and war, refugees often arrive in other locations with no job skills making resettlement in their new country nearly impossible.

The Salesian Missions “New Beginnings” program gives families the chance to achieve stability and the opportunity to send their children to school. It provides training and technical skills that enable refugees to find gainful employment. It also offers educational courses as well as job placement support.

In addition, the Salesians help guide refugees through the proper registration process in their new homeland, which allows them to work legally there. The Salesians coordinate with Departments of Labor in each country to ensure that the training given to refugees matches the needs of employers, which further improves the chances of securing a better life.

The New Beginnings program is aiding refugees in several countries around the globe. In April, 450 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees graduated from this unique vocational training program that was designed especially for them. In Kenya, Salesian Missions helps youth enhance their livelihoods and achieve self-sustainability through a New Beginnings project in the country.

In 2011, Salesian Missions began a new “New Beginnings” initiative working with Colombian refugees in four countries in Central and South America. Through this program Salesian Missions is providing more than 5,000 Colombian refugees vocational and human development training as well as job placement services.

“Many of the Colombian refugees have no marketable skills. They can’t find jobs and the lack of training makes it difficult to start their own business or join with others to form cooperatives,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Without jobs, it is hard to find stability for their families and build new lives. The New Beginnings program allows these victims of violence and chaos to start over and build a stable, hopeful future for themselves and their families.”

In addition to the estimated 5,100 students who will receive job training, Salesian Missions expects the program to indirectly benefit 26,520 family members. The program is reaching refugees in 18 different regions throughout Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama, and Costa Rica.



The United Nations – World Refugee Day 2012

The UN Refugee Agency – UNHRC:  World Refugee Day 2012

SalesianMissions.org:  “New Beginnings” for Colombian Refugees

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