By Migwe Kimemia, AFSC Ohio Program Director
AFSC co-sponsored the 2017 World Refugee Day celebrations on June 17 in solidarity with refugees who are victims of conflict minerals and political and religious persecutions around the world. The United Nations established this special day to celebrate and honor the courage, strength, and the resilience of refugees around the world.
To mark this important day, a multicultural choir sang South African liberation songs, which inspired all the participants. It was amazing to see people from diverse backgrounds celebrate and even sing together in peace and harmony.
This year’s event attracted over 200 African refugees largely from the African Great Lakes Region, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan. Most of these refugees are fleeing from armed violence, which is largely driven by the so-called Congo conflict minerals and ethnic cleansing in Burundi, Rwanda and Darfur (Sudan).
AFSC is pleased to have nominated Yahya Khamis, who received the City of Dayton Community Contribution Award during the World Refugee Day cerebrations. Khamis is the President of the Sudanese Community in Dayton and also a volunteer member of the AFSC Ohio Program Advisory Committee. “The Award I received gives me more strength to continue!” Khamis said after the ceremony.
This celebration helps to create awareness about refugee contributions to civic leadership, cultural diversity and economic development, which in turn helps eliminate xenophobia in Ohio. In addition, the World Refugee Day celebrations provide a very unique opportunity for refugees to share their stories and talents among Ohioans.
As part of the celebrations, AFSC also launched a petition urging Ohio’s governor to appoint 11 African constituents to the New African Immigrants Commission, enacted by the Ohio General Assembly in April 2009.
AFSC’s program is building a broad-based constituency for petitioning the governor to fully implement the New African Immigrants Commission. We’re also promoting a global village narrative that fosters immigrant integration and intercultural understanding among all communities in Ohio.
For more information and to get involved, please contact Migwe at MKimemia@afsc.org.