World Refugee Day at Kotzia Square 2017
On Tuesday 20th of June, the Greek Forum of Refugees celebrated the World Refugee Day. In collaboration with Amnesty International and the Municipality of Athens, an open event Refugees Dreams was organised at Kotzia square on this symbolic date to demonstrate solidarity and promote refugees’ initiatives.
The afternoon started with a discussion focusing on “Asylum & Integration: Present and Future” that took place inside the city hall. A video #RefugeesDreams, made by the Working Group of GFR, collection of small video of refugees expressing their dreams was presented.The panel was first composed of newcomers refugees living in camps facilities and squats who raised their voices on injustice and indignant situations refugees are facing in Greece. One settled refugee exposed the situation of refugees here for years and how they feel “forgotten”. He finished by launching a call to Greeks to “come closer to us, we have so much to give”. Following their speeches, Eleni Petraki, from the Public Relations and Communication Office – Asylum Service made a review on the asylum services operation. Xenia Passa, UNHCR associate, intervened to explain that on behalf of UNHCR, there is no room for celebration due to the refugee situation in Greece and in Europe.
When the discussion panel finished and many people arrived on the square. Different communities started preparing food for dinner. Visitors could taste dishes from Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Ethiopia…
On the meantime, Elix and Network for Children Rights provided a playground for children while two photography exhibitions were exposed. ”Athens through my Lens” presented refugee creations, some of them having been done by newcomers refugees who learnt photography techniques in the frame of a workshop led at the Greek Forum of Refugees . “Refugee Road” exhibition presented refugees pictures taken during their journey to reach European countries.
The women creators of HARTS, as well as the Burundi community, organized a handicrafts exhibition. The visitors who came could then discover and enjoy all the colourful, varied and original jewels, bags and shoes created by the artisans.
The whole event was accompanied with a diversity of music, first Anasa Cultural Center brought a nice atmosphere by playing drums in front of the stage. Later on Syrian music was on the stage. The music only stopped for a short projection of the stop motion animation “Not a Game” made by the group “REJECTED”.