“Thessaloniki honours the World Refugee Day”, 20th June 2013

IMG 1138Symbiosis organised, in collaboration with the Municipality of Thessaloniki, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Greece, refugee and asylum seekers communities and other organisations, the 2013 World Refugee Day in Thessaloniki. The World Refugee Day is marked every year on June 20 since 2001 with events in many countries involving official agencies, aid workers, citizens and primarily refugees and asylum seekers.

In the framework of Symβiosis programme on integrating refugees and asylum seekers in Thessaloniki and the campaign on rights, the event was organised to raise citizens' awareness on the issues during a period of spiralling racism and xenophobia, and, most importantly, to give a voice to refugees and asylum seekers themselves. All over Greece, about 50,000 asylum seekers are waiting for the examination of their claim, often pending for over ten years. There is a severe lack of adequate reception conditions for asylum seekers and refugees, while in the main urban centres the reception centres for refugees and asylum seekers are almost abandoned by the state, and are collapsing by the day. Living conditions are atrocious; buildings are dilapidated, while in practice there are scarce provisions for legal aid and social care.

The World Refugee Day in the local Media

Programme of activitiesAfisa-1

Foyer Hall

Opening of posters and photography exhibition. Duration to early July 2013
  UNHCR posters
  Photos of refugees and asylum seekers (Morteza Jafari, Vahid Fasil, Jakub Alizante)

18:00 to 20:30 Multipurpose Room

Welcome and opening (10')
  Elli Chrisidou (Vice-Mayor of Culture, Municipality of Thessaloniki)
  Yorgos Tsarbopoulos (UNHCR Head in Greece)
  Despoina Syrri (Symβiosis)

Award for academic excellence to Vahit Fasıl, asylum seeker, by the Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris. Vahid, who excelled (1st) in the 2012 entrance exam at the Business Administration department of the University of Macedonia, arrived as unaccompanied minor to the city, went to school while working, and graduated secondary education in Thessaloniki.

Award to Thessaloniki school students who participated in the UNHCR and Ministry of Education national competition for the best essay on racism and xenophobia (by Yorgos Tsarbopoulos)

Documentary Screening for Refugees in Thessaloniki by film maker Morteza Jafari
"West Dream" and "Dreaming of democracy"

Discussion with representatives of communities, organizations and citizens
Panelists: Akel Haidari (Afghani community), Majuku Kurupara (Togo), Waly Ndour (Senegalese community), Efi Gelastopoulou (Greek Council for Refugees), Moderator: Despoina Syrri (Symβiosis)
Contributions by NGOs working with refugees and asylum seekers and discussion

Open air Amphitheatre

20.30 Concert by musicians from the Afghani community

Stalls with food produced by the Refugee and Asylum seekers' Shelter and the Senegalese and Philipino communities, information stalls from organizations, play activities for children. 

Event video (in Greek)

Photos - Ljubisa Vrencev


Photos - Jakub Alizante


Photos - Vahid Fasil


Photos - Sikandar Ghulam Khan