Pittsburgh’s observance of World Refugee Day will be held on Friday, June 19th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Market Square, Downtown Pittsburgh.
“The Pittsburgh celebration of World Refugee Day recognizes the refugee experience and honors their contributions to our community,” said Leslie Aizenman, director of refugee and immigrant services at JF&CS. “Refugees in Pittsburgh have a tremendous impact on our region’s economy and diversity; they have gone on to raise their families, buy homes and open their own businesses in their new neighborhoods. This is a great way for community members to get to know their new neighbors, and a wonderful educational opportunity to learn about who refugees are and why they are here.”
“Pittsburgh’s World Refugee Day is about bringing local refugees and community members together to connect with one another and celebrate their cultures,” said Kheir Mugwaneza, Director of Community Assistance and Refugee Resettlement at Northern Area Multi-Service Center (NAMSC). “We have put together an exciting and diverse event with people all across the world.”
The family-friendly event is free and open to the public. World Refugee Day will feature local refugee groups performing traditional musical and dance numbers, cultural crafts and activities for kids. Traditional cuisine representing countries around the world, including Nepal, Zambia, Kenya and several other ethnicities, will be available for purchase from local restaurants and vendors (cash only).
World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations to honor and recognize the approximately 42.5 million refugees, internally displaced and stateless people around the world who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. The observance of World Refugee Day in Pittsburgh is a collaborative effort of the major refugee resettlement agencies and service providers in the local community. The annual event debuted in Pittsburgh in 2012.
The event is funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and Vibrant Pittsburgh. JF&CS partners with many other organizations to bring this exciting program to hundreds of downtown passersby. The partners include Pittsburgh’s three other resettlement agencies: Northern Area Multi-Service Center Acculturation for Justice, Access & Peace Outreach and Catholic Charities along with the Red Cross of Southwest Pennsylvania, Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, AmeriCorps, CISV Pittsburgh and the Change a Heart Sanfranciscan volunteer program.
Through their extensive work in refugee resettlement, the hosting organizations have helped thousands of refugees, including most recently Bhutanese, Burmese, African/Somali and Iraqis, successfully resettle in communities throughout the Greater Pittsburgh area, as well as providing additional services including career services, social and human services and support.
To learn more about Pittsburgh’s World Refugee Day celebration, visit the Facebook event page.