Australia for UNHCR raises $257,000 for Ukraine emergency at World Refugee Day lunch.
On Thursday, we held our annual World Refugee Day event, honouring refugees in Australia and around the world.
For the second year in a row, we held a hybrid in-person and online event, with 400 guests in attendance at the Sheraton Park in Sydney, and about 50 online attendees. The event raised $257,000 for UNHCR’s Blue Dot Hubs – an integral part of UNHCR’s protection response, providing emergency services for the most vulnerable.
At the event, keynote speaker Professor Munjed Al Muderis, a former refugee and NSW Australian of the Year in 2020, shared his remarkable story. While working as a doctor under Sadaam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, he refused to cut off the ears of army deserters and was forced to to flee his country to seek safety.
“I had to make a choice, obey the orders and live with guilt for the rest of my life, or refuse and end up with a bullet in my head,” he said.
Today, he is a pioneering orthopaedic surgeon, helping people who have lost their limbs to walk again.
“Anyone can be a refugee really. It just takes one war, one pandemic, one nuclear disaster and you can find yourself in my shoes”
Guests also heard from the inaugural winner of the Les Murray Award for Refugee Recognition, Danijel Malbasa, who fled Croatia with his family as a child. Danijel described how UNHCR provided his family with the relief and support they desperately needed, and urged the audience to support all refugees, regardless of their country of origin.
“Anyone can be a refugee really. It just takes one war, one pandemic, one nuclear disaster and you can find yourself in my shoes,” he said.
In his speech, Chair of Australia for UNHCR, Michael Dwyer, paid tribute to Naomi Steer, who attended her last World Refugee Day event as National Director of Australia for UNHCR.
Naomi thanked all the supporters who have helped UNHCR provide emergency assistance to refugees and displaced people.
“I take my leave in what continues to be a year of incredible highs and lows. Highs because of the ongoing generosity of countless Australians and organisations supporting refugees and displaced people. But lows because of the escalation of conflict that has resulted in the massive global displacement, which has now hit 100 million people,” she said.
“My job over 20 years has been to mobilise that generosity and support of refugees. We’ve achieved a lot with that generosity….Life-saving emergency assistance in every emergency that UNHCR has operated in, in the past 20 years. Cash assistance to vulnerable refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. Water and sanitation programs across East Africa.
“While global political will and leadership is required to end the multiple conflicts driving displacement, we all have a role to play in helping to meet the humanitarian needs of people caught up in crises beyond their control and in doing so also create a better and safer world for all of us.”
We would also like to thank our sponsors for the event.
"We all have a role to play in helping to meet the humanitarian needs of people caught up in crises beyond their control and in doing so also create a better and safer world for all of us."
Craftivists Stephanie Dunlap and Tal Fitzpatrick reached out to artists around the world to raise funds for Australia for UNHCR
The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.