UN Refugee Agency in Egypt commemorates World Refugee Day

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UN Refugee Agency in Egypt commemorates World Refugee Day

With more than 65 million people worldwide forced to flee war, persecution and violence, World Refugee Day 2017 marks the need for standing firmly with refugees as the numbers of displaced persons are on the rise.

"We have to do better for these people. For a world in conflict, what is needed is determination and courage, not fear," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

For this purpose, on the eve of World Refugee Day 2017, which is celebrated worldwide on the 20 June, UNHCR Egypt hosted a major event at the Zamalek Cinema in Cairo under the theme "Refugee Voices in Film" to highlight the power and impact of film in standing with refugees through film. The program included an address by Goodwill Ambassador Adel Iman, director Amr Salama, actress Saba Mubarak, the screening of a number of films as well as the launch of the "Law Kan" (What If) music video by Egyptian band Wust El Balad, represented by Mizo Gamel. The evening was hosted by presenter Nardine Farag.

The audience was a range of supporters of the refugee cause in Egypt, including representatives from the diplomatic community, UN Agencies, officials from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, officials from the League of Arab States, NGOs, high profile celebrities, actors and actresses, filmmakers, civil society and media.

In his opening address, UNHCR Egypt representative, Mr. Karim Atassi said "Working with refugees is hard and today I will tell you what the secret is in order to be able to continue doing this job. The secret is the refugees themselves. They are the source of inspiration. They become gradually day after day, after hearing their stories, they become our heroes. They are the school of hope, school of courage."

The event was attended by the superstar Adel Imam, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. "We should not stand still and watch the tragedies escalate, we should all give our hands to the refugees everywhere," said Mr. Imam as he spoke about his past missions to Yemen and Syria.

Omar Samra, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador gave a message of support at the #WithRefugees activation corner. Other celebrities and influencers in attendance included Tunisian actress Dorra Zarrouk, actor Sabry Fawaz, composer Tamer Karawan, Intishal Al Timimi, El Gouna Film Festival director, film director Amir Ramses, actress Tara Emad, actor Mostafa Hareidy and prominent social media influencer Mohamed Mekawy.

The event marked the launch of a song and music video titled "Law Kan" by the renowned Egyptian band Wust El Balad, a haunting song reminding people that everyone has a right to their own home. Nardine Farag highlighted, the song asks one to pause and imagine "If you were in their place - what would you do?"

UNHCR teamed up with Wust El Balad to galvanise support for the refugee crisis across the region through this music video; "Law Kan" was filmed on location in Cairo by leading film director Amr Salama who has written and directed multiple award-winning feature films. "Law Kan"was produced by The Producers, a leading production house in Egypt with the lyrics written by songwriter Hazem Wefy, inspired by the deadly crossings refugees and migrants undertake in the hope of finding sanctuary at the end.
During the event, award-winning Jordanian actress and producer Saba Mubarak, who has just released the film "The Guest", spoke about the importance of highlighting the plight of refugees in film. Saba Mubarak spoke about how her country, Jordan is host to over 700,000 refugees from Syria and other neighboring countries, with 80% living in urban areas and the reminder in camps, the largest being Zata'ari camp, asking for support to help families who have lost everything and the opportunity to live with dignity.

A number of short UNHCR films, which had been screened at the Cannes Film Festival Doc Corner a month earlier, were shown for the first time in Egypt. They included the rhythmic poem "What They Took With Them"in which actors such as Keira Knightley, Juliet Stevenson, Neil Gaiman highlight what refugees take when they flee, and the "Dangerous Crossings"music video, created by six popular artists from Somalia, Ethiopia as well as the renowned musician and actor Hany Adel from Egypt. "Dangerous Crossings"is part of a UNHCR campaign that aims to spread awareness about the dangers of crossing the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea from Africa to and through war-stricken Yemen, highlighting the horrendous conditions and rising risks in Yemen.

The evening ended with a screening of the award-winning short feature film "Mare Nostrum"by Rana Kazkaz and Anas Khalaf, in which a Syrian father on a Mediterranean shore makes a decision that puts his daughter's life at risk.

UNHCR also released today the latest Global Trends report, the organization's major annual survey of the state of displacement, including the latest trends and figures compiled during 2016.

Egypt is one of the countries that has welcomed a large number of refugees since the Syrian crisis unfolded, as well as other asylum-seekers from Sub-Saharan Africa, Iraq or Yemen. As of 31 May 2017, UNHCR in Egypt has registered 208,968 refugees and asylum-seekers including 125,062 Syrians, 34,651 Sudanese, 13,270 Ethiopians, 6,901 Iraqis and others from more than 60 different nationalities.

The World Refugee Day has been marked on 20 June, ever since the UN General Assembly, on 4 December 2000, adopted resolution 55/76 where it noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June.

The event was a collaboration between UNHCR, the Arab Cinema Center and the Zamalek Cinema part of the Osman Group in Cairo, Egypt.

Arab Cinema Center (ACC) is an international promotional platform for Arab cinema as it provides the film making industry with a professional window to connect with their counterparts from all over the world through a number of events that it organizes. ACC also provides networking opportunities with representatives of companies and institutions specialized in co-production and international distribution, among others.

To access the "Law Kan" music video:

To access the "Law Kan" Behind the Scenes:

For photos from the filming of "Law Kan":

For additional information, please contact:

Tarik Argaz, UNHCR PI/Communications Officer | +20 1283 5798 32 | argaz@unhcr.org
Yahia Khelidy, UNHCR PI/Communications Assistant | +20 1005 0545 46 | khelidy@unhcr.org