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Ljubljana Commemorates World Refugee Day

Among Us and With Us

On June 20th, the Institute for African Studies, in co-operation with Društvo Odnos and Cene Štupar, held a public event at Ljubljana’s Prešeren Square that provided a platform for the work, talents and ideas of refugees and asylum seekers. Visitors, performers and onlookers took part in a variety of cultural and sporting activities.

World Refugee Day

The event marked World Refugee Day and was aimed at informing the general public about the challenges faced by asylum seekers, refugees and migrants and their integration into the local environment, encouraging dialogue and interaction and breaking stereotypes.

The opening ceremony was addressed by Ljubljana mayor Zoran Janković and featured other eminent speakers, including Nataša Potočnik, Head of the Migration Office at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Amnesty International’s Jerneja Turi from and Franci Jazbec from the Odnos Society. The latter two speakers emphasised the challenges presented by national and EU political frameworks for receiving and accepting refugees. The final speaker was a Syrian asylum seeker, who described the tribulations faced by asylum seekers in Europe because of the inflexible national and EU systems.

World Refugee Day

The formalities were followed by several performances. These included Syrian musician Ali R. Taha and local artist Jurij Baron, the amazing acrobatic team of Dawit and Marcus from Eritrea, singer Nadia, Iranian musicians Siran and Omeed, Malagasy musician Joseph Rakotorahalahy, literary recitals by Metka Trdin accompanied by Zvnoka Simčič on the didgeridoo, and the young Afghani musician Nazir.

A dance performance by the Dabke Troupe from the Rozana Arabian cultural society set the stage for the informal part of the festivities which also saw circus performances, African dancing sessions, face painting for kids, henna painting, knitting lessons and a range of board games. An open stage was made available for improvised musical gigs and a street football competition drew people from different backgrounds and age groups. The best teams and players received prizes at the end of the tournament.

World Refugee Day

The event also gave a podium to organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières, Amnesty International, UNHCR, Slovenian Philanthropy, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the UP society and Karitas, which occupied the stalls set up for this purpose.

A special word of thanks goes to Jurman Restaurant and Pizzeria and Tandoori Restaurant for their generous contribution of food and drink. We would also like to thank all the organisations and individuals who in their own ways participated in organising this truly noteworthy event.

World Refugee Day

About the Author

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Hana Alhady

Hana Alhady is a Project Co-ordinator at the Institute for African Studies and an invaluable member of our team.

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