Arlington Diocese observes World Refugee Day

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Since the year 2000, the United Nations has called upon the global community to observe World Refugee Day as a way to raise awareness about the plight of refugees. In honor of the event, the Arlington Catholic Charities' Migration and Refugees Services hosted an afternoon of cultural activities June 19 at the Diocesan Center in Arlington.

Programming included lunch, crisis mock negotiations similar to Model United Nations, a short video screening and music and stories from a former refugee.

The lunch featured traditional Afghan foods, as well as touches from other Middle Eastern, African and Central American countries experiencing a migration and refugee crisis.

The premise of the mock negotiation included the imaginary land of Burgland that recently decided to develop a nuclear plant to "increase its global influence and strengthen national security." Suspicious of the government, a rebel group formed to oppose the plant, which displaced large numbers of citizens. Negotiation participants were divided into groups such as "rebels," "royals" and "refugees."

Following the mock negotiations, Bianca Nelson, school liaison for the Virginia Refugee Student Achievement Project said, "The takeaway (of the game) was the intricacy of this situation."

According to the video, "2014 World at War," screened at the event, the number of refugees escaping their homelands is equivalent to "a small city fleeing every day." If the more than 40 million refugees in the world formed their own country, its population would be in the top 50 nations in the world. Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia are the main countries refugees flee; Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Ethiopia and Jordan are the main countries where they seek refuge.

Find out more

To learn more about how the diocesan Catholic Charities' Migration and Refugee Services finds homes for refugee families, provides job development and vocational job training, assists refugees in enrolling in English classes and more, email jmichels@ccda.net or call 703/841-3841.

Stoddard can be reached at cstoddard@catholicherald.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015