In acknowledgement of the forthcoming World Refugee Day, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) have launched a global campaign welcome and spotlighting the contributions refugees have made and are continuing to make to society. Celebrity voices – Lena Headey, Keegan-Michael Key and Mandy Patinkin – have come together in a tribute to the refugees who have shaped our world including, Freddie Mercury, Albert Einstein and Elie Wiesel.
The multi-platform campaign kicks off a major movement by the IRC to highlight the value refugees bring to communities across the globe and includes several activations. Firstly, with a new video featuring A-list celebrities and everyday individuals thanking famous refugees – Freddie Mercury, Albert Einstein, Elie Wiesel, Gloria Estefan, Marc Chagall, Luka Modrić, M.I.A. and the authors of Curious George – for the contributions they’ve made to our lives and society. You can check the video out below.
Additionally, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York kicks off the IRC’s World Refugee Day campaign with a press conference on 17 June. The Met – the IRC’s inaugural World Refugee Day museum partner this year – will highlight works of art created by refugees and shroud a painting by Marc Chagall from June 17 through the 20th in an effort to show what would be lost without their contributions.
Meanwhile, An activation at Tate’s four galleries across the UK takes place also today. Tate’s galleries in London, Liverpool and St Ives will mark World Refugee Day by spotlighting works by artists who fled conflict or persecution.
The organization are also sending an open letter calling for welcome and acknowledging the contributions of refugees. The letter is a call to action, asking individuals to stand for a world that always welcomes and supports the rights of refugees, ensuring they can reclaim their futures.
Finally, a display is launching in collaboration with Refugee Week and London’s famous V&A Museum highlighting refugee tenacity and entrepreneurship. celebrates the work of young entrepreneurs, supported by the IRC and the Citi Foundation, who have fled crisis and are now making their communities stronger by starting their own small businesses.
“When we welcome refugees they shape our world for the better,” said David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. “Now, more than ever before, we must remember the importance and power of welcome. The voices of Freddie Mercury and Gloria Estefan, the brilliance of Albert Einstein, the artistic vision of Marc Chagall and the footwork of Luka Modrić should inspire us to see refugees as an asset to be nurtured, not a problem to be feared.”
“I’ve worked with the International Rescue Committee for several years and each experience visiting their programming, speaking with those they serve, reaffirms my belief that refugees are the most resilient individuals on earth,” said Lena Headey, multi-award nominee actress and IRC Voice. “Refugees are hopeful, determined and eager to rebuild their lives, and welcoming them is the right thing to do. When we do, refugees not only build better lives for themselves and their families but stronger communities for us all.”
“Today, we live in a world fostering misperceptions about who refugees are and the value they bring to their new communities,” said Mandy Patinkin, Tony and Emmy-award winning actor and IRC Ambassador. “Refugees are entrepreneurs, artists and our neighbors, and when we open our hearts, minds and communities, we tap into immense potential and opportunity. When we welcome refugees, they bring more than their belongings. They bring hard work, potential and contributions.”
“Refugee contributions have moved our society forward and made the world we live in possible,” said Keegan-Michael Key, Emmy and Peabody award winning actor and producer, and IRC Voice. “Let’s support a world that welcomes refugees and builds bridges and opportunity for all. Let’s stand with refugees.”
“The Met collection—which presents 5,000 years of art from across time and every corner of the globe—reveals the indelible impact that refugees have had both on the history of art and on the understanding of creative expression,” said Max Hollein, Director of The Met. “From the artists whose works grace our galleries, to the visitors who walk through our doors, to those who enable the Museum’s mission in any number of ways, The Met is committed to welcoming refugees and celebrating their past and present accomplishments and contributions.”
“Many of the world’s great artists have been refugees, and without them our gallery walls would lack some of the most profound art works ever made. Tate is proud to join with the International Rescue Committee in standing with refugees and celebrating their work,” said Maria Balshaw, Director of Tate.
World Refugee Day, which is June 20, raises awareness of those displaced by conflict and persecution. To learn more about the IRC and the World Refugee Day campaign, and to view the video and sign the open letter visit the International Rescue Committee’s official website.