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World Refugee Day 2024

22nd June, 2024

World Refugee Day 2024

Source: TheQuint

Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.

Context: World Refugee Day is celebrated every year on 20 June.


  • World Refugee Day in 2024 will be celebrated on June 20.
  • World Refugee Day 2024 official theme is “Everyone is Welcome.”

History of World Refugee Day

  • The first ever World Refugee Day was celebrated on 20 June 2001 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
  • The day was earlier recognized as Africa Refugee Day and later in December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly officially declared it as an International Day for Refugees.

Significance of World Refugee Day

  • Refugees are among the most vulnerable people in the world.
  • The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol help protect them.
  • They are the only global legal instruments explicitly covering the most important aspects of a refugee’s life. According to their provisions, refugees deserve, as a minimum, the same standards of treatment enjoyed by other foreign nationals in a given country and, in many cases, the same treatment as nationals."
  • The significance of World Refugee Day is to highlight the hardships and challenges faced by Refugees all across the globe, and suggest measures to solve them. The day is observed to appreciate the resilience, courage and strength of refugees to build a bright future.

Refugee Data

  • One out of every 69 people on Earth is now displaced.
  • That is about 120 million people, or 1.5 percent of the world's population, who have been uprooted from their homes.

World Refugee Day 2024

72 years of refugee journeys

  • In 1951, the UN established the Refugee Convention to protect the rights of refugees in Europe in the aftermath of World War II. In 1967, the convention was expanded to address displacement across the rest of the world.
  • When the Refugee Convention was born, there were 1 million refugees. By 1980, the number of refugees recorded by the UN surpassed 10 million for the first time.
  • Wars in Afghanistan and Ethiopia during the 1980s caused the number of refugees to double to 20 million by 1990.
  • The number of refugees remained fairly consistent over the next two decades.
  • However, the United States invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 together with civil wars in South Sudan and Syria resulted in refugee numbers exceeding 30 million by the end of 2021.
  • The war in Ukraine, which started in 2022, led to one of the fastest growing refugee crises since World War II with 7 million people forced to flee Ukraine in less than a year. By the end of 2023, six million Ukrainians remained forcibly displaced.
  • In 2023, conflict in Sudan between the army and the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary increased the number of refugees to 1.5 million. Before the war, Sudan had taken in many Syrian refugees. When the war started, the number of Syrian refugees in Sudan dropped from 93,500 in 2022 to 26,600 in 2023 as many left for other countries. Thousands of people are still being displaced daily more than a year after the conflict began.
  • Most recently, Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip has had a devastating toll on the Palestinian population. UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, estimated that from October to December, up to 1.7 million people – more than 75 percent of the population - have been displaced within the Gaza Strip with many having been forced to flee multiple times.
  • The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is extremely dire with all 3 million inhabitants facing food shortages and the threat of famine.
  • As of 2024, almost three-quarters (72 percent) of all refugees came from just five countries: Afghanistan (6.4 million), Syria (6.4 million), Venezuela (6.1 million), Ukraine (6 million) and Palestine (6 million).

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

  • It protects refugees worldwide and facilitates their return home or resettlement.
  • It was established by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1950 in the aftermath of the Second World War to help the millions of people who had lost their homes.
  • It is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution.
  • It was awarded Nobel Peace Prizes in 1954 and 1981.
  • It started the Nansen Refugee Award in 1954 for recognition of outstanding service to the cause of refugees, displaced or stateless people.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland

1951 Refugee Convention or the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951

  • It is a United Nations multilateral treaty that defines who a refugee is and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum. 
  • It sets out which people do not qualify as refugees, such as war criminals. 
  • It provides for some visa-free travel for holders of refugee travel documents issued under the convention.
  • The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol are the key legal documents which defines the term ‘refugee’ and outline their rights and the international standards of treatment for their protection. UNHCR serves as the ‘guardian’ of these documents.
  • The core principle of the 1951 Convention is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom.

Rights contained in the 1951 Convention include:

  • The right not to be expelled, except under certain, strictly defined conditions 
  • The right not to be punished for irregular entry into the territory of a contracting State 
  • The right to non-discrimination 
  • The right to decent work 
  • The right to housing, land and property, including intellectual property 
  • The right to education 
  • The right to freedom of religion 
  • The right to access to justice 
  • The right to freedom of movement within the territory 
  • The right to be issued civil, identity and travel documents 
  • The right to social protection 

The 1951 Convention only protects persons who meet the criteria for refugee status. Certain categories of people are considered not to deserve refugee protection and should be excluded from such protection.

This includes persons for whom there are serious reasons to suspect that: 

  • they have committed a crime against peace,
  • a war crime, or a crime against humanity; 
  • they have committed a serious non-political crime outside their country of refuge prior to the admission to that country as a refugee; or
  • they are guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.


Indian Express


Q. Which document forms the basis of UNHCR’s work?

A. The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol,

B. The 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees.

C. The 2016 New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants.

D. None of the above.

Answer A