World Refugee Day 2017

Around the world, there are about 21.3 million refugees, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than the entire population of New York State.

So to remember them, people around the world will mark World Refugee Day on June 20.

Established by the United Nations in 2000, World Refugee Day will be celebrated across the United States and beyond.

The UN is also starting a petition on World Refugee Day, which will be delivered to governments ahead of a UN High Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants on Sept. 19.

But if you want to celebrate and remember refugees, you need look no further than Buffalo.

On July 1, there will a celebration of World Refugee Day in WNY in LaSalle Park, including soccer tournaments and cultural performances, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

This year, there will also be a new event on June 21 — a food truck rodeo, organized by Buffalo Niagara Deaf Events, at the Tri-Main Center.

The event is specifically to support deaf refugees in Buffalo.

“People who are refugees … it’s like their education is taken away from them,” said Joseph Brzezowski, the organizer of the event, in a phone interview. For deaf refugees, there is the added challenge of learning American Sign Language — a challenge Brzezowski is familiar with.

“My wife is from another country, and uses another sign language,” he said.

The event is sponsored by Deaf Access Services and the Jewish Family Service Refugee Resettlement program. Together, these two organizations provide a deaf refugee program for 18 refugees in Western New York, according to a press release from DAS.

Brzezowski hopes the event will not only provide support, but a slightly different kind of World Refugee Day event.

“(At events like this) there’s usually the same painting, dancing — where’s food?” said Brzezowski. “I’ll add that.”

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