Broadcast: June 16, 2003
This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
The United Nations refugee agency says the world had nearly twenty-million refugees and other "people of concern" as last year began. Twelve-million lived outside their own countries. The rest were asylum-seekers, refugees returning home and so-called internally displaced persons. These are people who have fled their homes but remain within their own country.
Asia had the most refugees, followed by Africa and Europe. The total number of people of concern to the U-N agency was down by two-million from the year before. However, the situation remains a serious international problem.
The United Nations defines refugees as people who fear being oppressed because of such things as their religion, nationality or race. They may also fear mistreatment because of their social group or political opinions.
The U-N has declared this Friday, June twentieth, World Refugee Day. Organizers have centered this year’s campaign on young people. U-N officials say the goal is to provide young refugees with a sense of self-respect and value.
In Australia, messages about the world’s refugees will be broadcast in many different languages. In Moldova, a Refugee Food Day and a "Rock for Refugees" music performance are planned.
A writing and art competition for schoolchildren is planned in Greece. The U-N refugee agency said it would also negotiate with the government a joint policy paper for the protection of asylum-seeking children in the country.
In Guinea, special plays and music shows are planned with performers from among refugees in the capital, Conakry. A film about young refugees will also be shown.
Special events in Nicaragua include a discussion organized by three universities. Refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala have been invited to tell their stories.
These are just a few of the events the U-N refugee agency has helped organize for this year’s World Refugee Day.
To learn more about the world’s refugee problem, listen to V-O-A News Now which will broadcast stories all this week. V-O-A reporters around the world will explore issues that refugees and governments face. They will also tell about some of the places where the refugee crisis is most severe.
This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.