Friday, June 20, 2008

Cape Town celebrates World Refugee Day

By Tina George
20 June 2008

Many refugees as well as South Africans gathered on Friday at the Future Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town in commemoration of World Refugee Day.

The theme for this year “We are family” is a call to all to uphold tolerance and understanding by standing in solidarity against the inhumanness of xenophobia.

Among the speakers at the event were three refugee children who shared their experiences and read the declaration of rights along with students from various high schools who also read poems against xenophobia.

The main speaker of the event Archbishop Desmond Tutu addressed the crowd saying he is “deeply humbled yet proud” after hearing the children’s stand against the violence.

In the same breathe he exclaimed that the xenophobic attacks that have occurred are “totally unacceptable and un-african” as we are known to be a culture that welcomes other cultures.

He made a plea to the refugees to forgive us as South Africans for our inexcusable actions shown towards them.

He added that just like apartheid, we are going to defeat xenophobia.

“Let us create new kinds of societies, where there is no war, no oppression and create countries that are compassionate and caring.”

Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille shared a few words saying that “we must look at people for who they are and understand people for their identity and that nobody chooses to be a refugee.”

The event was ended off with the South African national anthem and a dance by a refugee group.

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