Today, June 20 is World Refugee Day.

On the occasion of World Refugee Day, the Council of Europe and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) emphasize that anyone fleeing war, conflict, or persecution or risking violence, abuse, or exploitation, has the right to seek safety and protection.

Almost four months into the war in Ukraine, millions of refugees have crossed the country’s borders and many more have been internally displaced. The global number of people on the move has reached an unprecedented level with more than 100 million persons being forcibly displaced as reported in UNHCR’s Global Trends 2021.

”Human rights are central to safety and protection. The Council of Europe standards apply to everyone in need, with particular attention to the rights of those in vulnerable situations, such as migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls, unaccompanied and separated children, and elderly persons”, said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Migration and Refugees, Leyla Kayacik (SRSG).

The Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Vulnerable Persons in the Context of Migration and Asylum in Europe (2021-2025) proposes notably targeted measures and activities to enhance the capacity of member states to identify and address vulnerabilities throughout asylum and migration procedures.

World Refugee Day is an international day organized every year to celebrate and honor refugees from around the world.

World Refugee Day was first established in 2001, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

“Every person has the right to seek safety and to have access to human rights, whoever they are, wherever they come from, and whenever they are forced to flee. Together with the Council of Europe and its member states, UNHCR continues working to safeguard the rights of forcibly displaced persons,” said Andreas Wissner, UNHCR Representative to the European Institutions in Strasbourg.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin was born in 1973 in Moscow, Russia. He and his family fled to the United States in 1979 to escape anti-Jewish persecution in their country.

Brin went on to study computer science at the University of Maryland and Stanford University, where he met Larry Page. Brin and Page joined forces in 1998 to found Google, now the world’s most popular search engine and a media giant that owns YouTube, one of the world’s biggest video hosting platforms.

The Internet owes much of its existence to Nigerian refugee Philip Emeagwali, who created a formula that allowed a large number of computers to communicate at once.

Born in 1954, Emeagwali had to drop out of school because his family couldn’t afford it, but he earned multiple degrees after immigrating to the United States.

While completing his doctoral dissertation at the University of Michigan, Emeagwali realized that he could use thousands of microprocessors to do the job of eight expensive supercomputers, inventing a practical and cost-effective way for machines to share information across the world.

Emeagwali earned more than 100 prizes for his discovery, and his technology has been used by the oil industry and Apple computers.

Born in Mogadishu, Somalia as the youngest of seven siblings, Ilhan Omar now represents Minnesota’s 5th District in the U.S. Congress. Omar became a refugee at the age of 8 when Somalia’s civil war broke out and her family fled to Kenya.

There, they spent four years in a refugee camp before being resettled in the U.S. in 1995.

In the House of Representatives, Omar calls for greater support for and inclusion of refugees in American society. She says, “[Refugees] are humans who deserve the opportunity and who — when given that opportunity — will live to our fullest potential.”

Physicist Albert Einstein published his theory of special relativity in 1905 and his theory of general relativity in 1915.

Years later in 1933, he and his wife Elsa were forced to flee Nazi Germany for safety in the U.S.

Einstein’s theories revolutionized physics and transformed the way we understand space and time. Scientists have used these theories to study black holes, supernovas, changes in orbit and electromagnetic radiation.

In 1920, Russian refugee Adolph Levitt made a living selling doughnuts at his bakery in NYC.

Pressured by hungry theatergoers to churn them out faster, Levitt invented the first doughnut machine that year. He used the machine to make millions, selling wholesale deliveries to bakers around the US.

By 1934, doughnuts were billed as “the food hit of the Century in Progress,” and they were even handed out by the Red Cross in World War II. The automated process of creating doughnuts eventually helped build commercial empires like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’.

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