World Refugee Day

We’d like to take a break from our regularly scheduled and admittedly superficial programming to jump on the soapbox for a minute.

I’d like to thank the powers that be for Angelina Jolie, because she makes my job so much easier by being such a great Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). And June 20th is World Refugee Day, the day designated to bring notice to more than 42 million people who are uprooted by violence and persecution.

And I know you are like,’ Okay, why do I give a crap about that, give me some fashion news now please?’ And it’s because the word ‘refugee’ is just a legal term for someone who has had to leave their country because of persecution. You don’t have to be poor to be a refugee. You don’t have to live in a third-world country to be a refugee. Anyone could be a refugee. Don’t believe me?

So there was this really smart guy, and his brain was practically full of all sorts of world-changing crazy mathematical and scientific things. And unfortunately, he was living in a country where the ruling powers took offense to his religion and persecuted all of its followers. So he left and went to a new country. If the decision was in your hands, would you help him? Would you grant him asylum in your country, space in your city, a place in your schools?

If the answer was no, well done. You’ve just denied Albert Einstein asylum. And Einstein isn’t the exception: Marlene Dietrich, Madeleine Albright, Victor Hugo and Marc Chagall were all refugees. Refugees aren’t nameless people begging for sympathy. They are people who, through no fault of their own, were caught up in some of the greatest upheavals of the world. They are doctors, lawyers, politicians, teachers, mothers and fathers.

Still don’t believe me about it being no fault of their own? Almost half of all people of concern to UNHCR are children.

So get informed and get involved. Join the ‘Gimme Shelter’ cause on Facebook: until August 14, Microsoft will donate $1 for every person that joins and match donations to UNHCR. Watch Ben Affleck’s short film for the ‘Gimme Shelter’ campaign. Read an op-ed by the High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres. And of course, watch this new video by Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie about refugees.

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