5 ways to help on World Refugee Day

Train station in Pardubic, Czech Republic.
People displaced by the war in Ukraine arrive at a train station in Pardubice, Czech Republic. April 2022.

World Refugee Day, 20 June, is an international day designated by the United Nations to honor refugees around the globe. Members of Rotary and Rotaract clubs have been taking action through a variety of international projects to help raise awareness of the plight of refugees, advocate for humane policies related to refugees, and provide for immediate needs of refugees. Quentin Wodon, Chair of the Rotary Action Group for Refugees, Forced Displacement, and Migration, has written a blog on 5 ways to support newcomers and migrants on the Rotary Service in Action blog. Also read about some of the efforts of Rotary and Rotaract members to support refugees through the years:

  • Rotary clubs in the Czech Republic and Slovakia have been using their connections to gain access to a strategic railway hub that has allowed them to shuttle critical supplies into Ukraine and help refugees get out.
  • Across Europe, Rotaract members are using digital tools to share information and coordinate to help people who have been affected by the war in Ukraine.
  • Rotarians in the Rotary Action Group for Refugees, Forced Displacement, and Migration spearhead a program to create scholarships for Afghan refugees in the United States.
  • Cristal Montañéz Baylor, a member of the Rotary E-club of Houston, Texas, USA, is the International Coordinator for Hope for Venezuelan Refugees, a project providing for the needs of Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Colombia.
  • Exodus Venezuela tracks the stories of three refugees who were among the 4 million people who fled Venezuela following the economic turmoil beginning in 2015.
  • In 2016, with support from the Rotary Club of Ulsan Daeduck, North Korean immigrants to South Korea chartered the Rotary Club of Ulsan Freedom to help defectors adapt to life in South Korea.
  • Six humanitarians and members of the family of Rotary were honored as People of Action: Connectors Beyond Borders during the 2019 Rotary Day at the United Nations focusing on the global refugee crisis.
  • In Nova Scotia, Canada, the Rotary Club of Amherst brought two families from war-torn Syria to their country, where the refugees are starting a new life. The club galvanized other community groups to help the families assimilate with the town and culture. 
  • The Rotaract Club of Nakivale, Uganda, is raising funds to help residents of a huge refugee settlement start their own businesses. The club, based inside the settlement, also provided refugees with sugar, soap, and clothes. 
  • Rotary member Pia Skarabis-Querfeld, a physician in Germany, built a network of volunteer doctors to help thousands of refugees streaming into Berlin, Germany. In 2015, during the peak of the refugee influx into Germany, her nonprofit, Medizin Hilft, had more than 100 volunteers at its clinic.

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