Friday 9 July 2021

“A Refugee is…” – The Refugee Dictionary


UK for UNHCR Trustee Mevan Babakar, who was a refugee from the Gulf war in the 1990s


What does the word “refugee” mean to you? 


For Maya Ghazal, a Syrian refugee and a pilot, “A refugee is a human being with hopes and dreams like everyone else. A refugee can be anyone, like a pilot flying your plane – a pilot like me!”


And for actor David Morrissey, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, ”A refugee is “a boy who had to give up his childhood to provide for his family.”


What is it for you? 

To mark the 70th anniversary of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, on 28 July, UK for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency’s UK charity, is asking Britons to help compile a dictionary that will define only one word – “refugee” – but in thousands of different personal, emotive and thought-provoking ways. 

 The (physical) dictionary with its 1000s definitions of the term “refugee” will be unveiled on 28 July, the day, 70 years ago, when the convention first legally defined the term ‘refugee’ in universal terms and outlined the rights and obligations of women, men and children fleeing the horrors of war and persecutions to seek safety in another country.

Since then, the word refugee has taken on countless personal meanings, so “The Refugee Dictionary” aims to remind us of the rich tapestry of stories and futures made possible because of this significant human rights convention - and celebrate and encourage the UK’s proud tradition of giving refuge by inviting the public to join in.


It is hoped the project will bring thousands of new meanings to the word and highlight that refugees aren’t confined or defined by one word, but are individuals with myriad rich stories, hopes and lives.


UK for UNHCR is encouraging everyone to take part, from those who have sought refuge in the UK or people whose family members were refugees, to those who simply want to celebrate the positive role of refugees in their communities and to the country.


You can enter your definition until July 12th here. 


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