Every year, many people are forced to flee their home countries as a result of political unrest, conflicts and wars. They flee in the hope of survival and a better future. However, being in a foreign country with little to nothing as a basis to rebuild their lives is a huge challenge with many obstacles along the way.

It is for this reason that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) commemorates 20 June as World Refugee Day. Every year on this day people around the world are presented with an opportunity to honour the strength and courage of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants (ASRMs) for their resilience and commitment to improving their lives amid challenging circumstances.

This year, ProBono.Org in partnership with the UNHCR, the City of Johannesburg’s Migration Advisory Panel (JMAP), the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA), Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), the Centre for The Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), the South African Refugee Led Network (SARLN) and Galore Sports hosted a joint event. The collective aim was to create awareness and bring together the host community with ASRMs to highlight the rights of ASRMs, particularly the right to seek safety. In light of the recent xenophobic attacks and vigilante movements which have arisen we undertook a theme of “Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. Everyone has the right to seek safety”.

It was imperative for us to take a firm stand against threats and xenophobia and have our voices heard while also directing ASRMs to relevant organisations through which they may obtain assistance. This act of solidarity was a definite success as we were able to connect with many individuals who were experiencing various challenges in navigating the legal system. We are pleased to affirm that ProBono. Org was able to form relationships with people and offer lifelines to many disheartened and frustrated refugees and migrants who were struggling to apply for proper documentation as the first step to rebuilding their lives and being integrated into society.

As a build-up to the main event, on 19 June 2022 Galore Sports organised a sports tournament in Sunnyside Pretoria to promote social cohesion between the host community and the refugee and migrant communities. We would like to thank all the civil rights organisations for their commitment to protecting the rights of all individuals, and for ensuring that the local community understands that everyone has a right to seek safety and that it is a human right, not a qualifying right with exceptions.

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