World Refugee Day

4387-500Gardening event at refugee center in honor of World Refugee Day with Ambassador David McKean and Minister of Family and Integration, Corinne Cahen

On Monday afternoon, U.S. Ambassador David McKean and his wife, Ms. Kathleen Kaye, joined embassy staff and the Minister of Family and Integration, Corrine Cahen, OLAI and Red Cross staff in honoring World Refugee Day by planting a garden with the residents of a refugee center in Luxembourg City. The refugees, who were uprooted from their own homes, worked together with staff and volunteers to plant herbs, vegetables, fruits, and flowers, forming a cheerful garden they can tend themselves and eat the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors. Men, women and children (many of whom are fasting for Ramadan) were very enthusiastic to help and plant and water the garden outside their Luxembourgish home. The refugees who participated are some of the 3,000 refugees welcomed into Luxembourg and form a portion of the 65 million displaced people world-wide.

This event marking World Refugee Day was one of the series of classes and activities organized and sponsored by the U.S. Embassy staff and volunteers. Since January 2016 the U.S. Embassy has been teaching English classes to refugees twice a week and have held a series of women’s programs. The Embassy is currently partnering with Digital Inclusion, a local non-profit organization who accepts used laptops and prepares them for a new life, as a tool for refugees to help them start their new life (   We share the goal of getting laptops and computers into the hands of local refugees and installed at refugees centers throughout the country so that refugees can learn languages using computer software and complete other on-line training courses.

Secretary of State John Kerry made the following remarks for the occasion of World Refugee Day, on June 20, 2016. (excerpts from his speech)

Today, we honor refugees’ resilience and courage. We also recognize the tremendous contributions made by local and international non-governmental organizations on the front lines of delivering life-saving assistance. This year’s commemoration comes at a time when brutal conflicts are forcing record numbers of innocent people to flee, and challenging the world to find better ways to protect them. The number of forcibly displaced people is the largest ever recorded. Sixty-five million people are refugees, internally displaced or seeking asylum, five million more than a year ago.

The refugees we welcome to the United States will join previous generations who have come to this country to escape violence and persecution – threats to human life and dignity that remain all too real today. History celebrates such moments when we have overcome bias and fear, and opened our doors. Those who have walked through them have made immeasurable contributions to our community of citizens and enriched our lives. Their achievements are a testament to the potential all humans have to heal, to overcome loss, to start over, and to the obligation we share, to give future generations that chance.

Photos US Embassy Flickr account: