The World Refugee event June 20 began at City Hall in Saskatoon. (Submitted photo)
By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
COVID-19 restrictions did not stop advocates from marking World Refugee Day in Saskatoon — an annual event that has always had a local dimension, through sunshine, rain, or pandemic.
Carrying signs reading “We Are All in This Together,” “My Door is Open For Refugees,” and “We Are Safe When Refugees are Safe,” participants gathered at Saskatoon City Hall before fanning out on a walk to River Landing.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing suffering for refugees around the world, who are always among the most vulnerable as they flee violence and persecution in an effort to find a place of safety. Travel restrictions are also impacting the arrival of refugees who are being sponsored by Canadians, including those connected to Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) organizations, such as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
The UNHCR (United Nations refugee agency) recently released its annual Global Trends Report, reporting that the number of displaced people – including refugees who have fled their homeland as well as those who are internally displaced within their own countries – has increased from 70.8 million in 2018 to 79.5 million at the end of 2019. Some 26 million of those displaced persons are refugees.
Only 0.5 per cent of the world’s refugees were offered resettlement in 2019, although the UNHCR estimates that more than 1.4 million refugees need to be resettled. Canadian continues to be a world leader in resettlement, welcoming 30,100 refugees in 2019 (p. 52 of the Global Trends Report for 2019). Some 58 percent of re-settlement arrivals during the last decade were conducted through private sponsorship.
Participants carried signs, while wearing masks and observing physical distancing in response to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, which are also affecting the arrival of refugees to Canada. (Submitted photo)
Participants in the Saskatoon World Refugee Day event walked from City Hall to River Landing June 20. (Submitted photo)
Participants in the World Refugee Day event gathered at River Landing in Saskatoon. (Photo submitted)
Group photo of participants at River Landing, Saskatoon. (Submitted photo)