Rochester announces plans to celebrate World Refugee Day

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Many refugees come to the United States to escape war, persecution, and other poor living conditions. The process to settle legally, often takes years.

That’s why the City of Rochester is celebrating this population on World Refugee Day, which is June 20. The celebration will be Saturday, June 17.

Refugee organizations said Monroe County is expecting around 1,300 refugees to settle within the next year. They often provide a tremendous amount of value as our neighbors, and as legal tax-paying citizens.

Amal Abdi, office manager at Refugees Helping Refugees, said her journey from Somalia took about five years. It was not easy.

“You go through a background check, you go through a medical check, and then you do not know where you’re going,” she said.

She said a country has to accept you, and the process of arriving to the U.S was an uncertain and tedious one.

“By the time we find our new home, we are dropped in a city that we do not know what that culture is like,” said Abdi.

Thanks to local refugee organizations, she found a life here.

Bijya Khadka, with New American Advisory Council said it’s important these refugees feel welcome.

“Fighting, seeking a new opportunity, seeking a new identity to be somebody,” he said. “That is why it is so important that we come together and celebrate this.”

Principal at Rochester International Academy Andrecolich-Montesano Diaz said there will be educational resources at the celebration. The district has over a thousand refugees.

“In the last two weeks I have received over 20 new students from Catholic Family Charities, so with the influx, my district is prepared to welcome the new refugees and newcomers,” said Diaz.

The celebration is also for anyone who wants to learn about their own neighbors, and welcome them.

“We are building the city that we come into,” said Abdi. “We’re not tearing it down, we are giving it back, we are loving it the way it loved us back, so it’s really, really, important for the community to see that.”

The celebration is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Edgerton Park, and open to everyone.

There will be free food, music and entertainment. There will also be over 20 organizations represented, with information on job opportunities, health, and educational resources.