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World Refugee Day 2024: Background and Theme

Utkarsh Classes Last Updated 20-05-2024
World Refugee Day 2024: Background and Theme Important Day 6 min read

Every year, 20 May is observed as World Refugee Day. This day is observed to raise the world’s consciousness about the plight of the refugees who have left their homes due to war, persecution, violence or due economic factors, etc.

Background to the World Refugee Day 

The genesis of World Refugee Day lies in African Refugee Day. In 1975, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) passed a resolution to observe 20 May as African Refugee Day to pay tribute to the resilience of those who had been forcibly displaced in Africa due to conflict. 

Considering the success of African Refugee Day, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in December 2000 to observe 20 May as World Refugee Day coinciding with the African Refugee Day. 

The first World Refugee Day was observed on 20 May 2001.

2001 also marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 967 Protocol. The 1951 Refugee Convention and the 967 Protocol are landmark international agreements that define the rights of refugees and the obligations of countries that provide refugees to such persecuted persons.

India has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, but the UNHCR has been active in India since 1981.

Theme of the 2024 World Refugee Day 

The theme for the 2024 World Refugee Day is: Hope Away from Home 

Types of refugees and their rights 

People who are forced to leave their homes and flee to another country are called refugees, asylum seekers, Internally displaced persons and stateless persons. 


According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a person is a refugee who has/her fled their home(country)  to another country due to fear of persecution on the basis of their race, political opinion, religion, etc. It also includes people who have fled their homes due to natural or man-made disasters. 

Asylum Seekers

They are people who have fled their country to another country, claiming persecution due to political, religious or other grounds. However, the country to which they have fled is yet to decide whether their claim is true or not. 

Internally Displaced Persons

Unlike refugees or asylum seekers, internally displaced persons do not move to a foreign country but have moved to a different region within the country. 

Stateless Persons

According to the United Nations Convention on Refugees, stateless persons are those persons who do not belong to any country and have no defined nationality.


Returnees are former refugees/internally displaced persons who have returned back to their original place of residence. people 

Rights of the Refugees 

The 1951 Refugee Convention contains a number of rights and also highlights the obligations of refugees towards their host country. 

According to the Refugee Convention, the host country shall not force a refugee back to their original country if they face serious threats to his or her life or freedom. 

The refugees are entitled to a number of rights in the country where they have fled, like the right to education, housing, work, etc.

 The United Nations has also created a specialised body for Refugees, UNHCR.

UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency)

The UNHCR, or the UN Refugee Agency, was set up as the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees by the United Nations to deal with the refugee crisis created by the Second World War. It came into existence on 14 December 1950.

The UNHCR was initially created for three years, but later, the United Nations General Assembly periodically extended its mandate.

In 2003, the UNHCR was made a permanent body. The UNHCR works to protect refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people in the state, and people whose nationality is disputed.

Headquarters of UNHCR: Geneva, Switzerland 


Answer: 20 May

Answer: 20 May 2001.

Answer: 1951. The 1951 Refugees Convention defines the rights of the refugees and the obligation of the country which has provided refuge to them.

Answer: Hope Away from Home

Answer: 2003. It was set up as a temporary agency in 1950 as the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.

Answer: Geneva, Switzerland
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