World Refugee Day is An Opportunity to Celebrate Inclusivity

World Refugee Day

By Minhaj Hassan

Lately, it seems hardly a day goes by where you don’t hear about refugees. Whether it’s the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, or other countries where instability has taken hold (Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, among others), forced displacement has become more common than anyone would like. It is a sad story whenever someone is forced to leave their homeland due to conditions or circumstances beyond their control. 

Islamic Relief USA has long helped refugee populations and has especially stepped up the past year. After people from Afghanistan managed to reach the United States following the end of a decades-long war last August, IRUSA’s volunteers helped assemble tens of thousands of ready-to-eat meals.

Numerous people received this food. The organization helped supply them with basic needs, and find a stable home, as part of a State Department program helping resettle certain groups. 

The transition has hardly been smooth as high costs of living, housing shortages, and the long process of adapting to a new nation’s culture and lifestyle prove very challenging. Still, we are optimistic that in the long run, and with sufficient nurturing through effective government and social services, refugees can serve as assets to the communities they now call home. 

Study after study shows the vibrancy and positive economic impact new people can generate within a community. That is why they should be celebrated, not demonized. That’s what World Refugee Day, as designated by the United Nations, is all about. This day, which will take place on June 20. 

While charitable actions have been a blessing, they’re not long-term solutions. The current humanitarian parole designation — the status under which many people who escaped Afghanistan last summer are categorized–allows them to stay in the United States for up to two years. While it’s helpful, it lacks a pathway to permanent residency that would provide some solace to these families. 

One suggestion, though not formally introduced yet in Congress, is the Afghan Adjustment Act. As the United States had done previously for people fleeing the Communist regime in Cuba, this proposal would allow Afghan refugees to apply for lawful permanent resident status, the same legal status they would have received had they been admitted as refugees. 

Islamic Relief USA believes all people entering the States deserve to be treated with dignity. One of the ways to show solidarity with this sentiment is to pay your respects on World Refugee Day. You can help advocate for Afghans in the United States by encouraging Congress to create an Afghan Adjustment Act. Participate in our campaign and make your voice heard here by visiting irusa.org/afghanadjustmentact.

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