“Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me. They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced, and their biggest dream is to be able to live normally again. On this World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity, celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere.” — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Pittsburgh will celebrate World Refugee Day on Friday, June 17 in downtown Market Square from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. As in past years, the event includes cultural performances (drumming, dance and songs), food booths featuring international cuisine, and information booths where visitors can learn about Pittsburgh’s refugee resettlement activities and about the many different refugee populations that have been resettled in Pittsburgh.
Additionally, for the first time, 10 refugees will take their oath of allegiance and actually become U.S. citizens in a short naturalization ceremony.
JF&CS will be represented at the event, along with Acculturation for Justice, Access and Peace Outreach (AJAPO), Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Northern Area Multi-Service Center, South Hills Interfaith Movement, Young Democrats of Allegheny County, City of Asylum Pittsburgh, CISV Pittsburgh, Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council and American Red Cross of Southwestern PA. The event is funded by the Urban Affairs Foundation of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
“This is going to be a wonderful celebration of the diverse cultures represented by our local refugee communities,” said Dr. Yinka Aganga-Williams, Executive Director of AJAPO, one of the lead organizations. “It is also a great opportunity for the public to get to know their newest neighbors while experiencing the refugees’ food, music, dance and stories.”
Currently it is reported that there are some 60 million refugees in the world, either internally or externally displaced. Most refugees that resettle in Pittsburgh have been away from their homes for at least a few years before they wend their way through vetting and paperwork, and are then accepted into the U.S. to be helped by local agencies like JF&CS where they receive a helping hand. This include furnished housing, rent for a few months, employment support and connections to community resources to learn English, enroll children in school and become familiar with practical and cultural matters like negotiating the bus system.
World Refugee Day was started by the United Nations in 2000 to draw attention to the human consequences of war and violence all over the world. The refugees that have settled here want to share their culture with us. Please join us at this event and help promote peace and tolerance of all peoples.
Pittsburgh’s World Refugee Day
Friday, June 17, 2016
11 AM – 2 PM
Market Square, Pittsburgh, PA
Drum Performance by Afrika Yetu
Bhutanese Dance Group
Children of Shangri Lost Dance Group
Children of Shangri Lost Vocal Performance
Remarks by Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald
US Citizenship & Immigration Services – Refugee Citizenship Ceremony
African Dance Group from Brashear High School (tentative)
Sitar Performance (tentative)
*Public restrooms are available in 2 PPG Place*