Mayor Bryon W. Brown and other city officials joined the International Institute of Buffalo at City Hall on Tuesday, June 20th, for a special flag-raising ceremony to commemorate World Refugee Day.
World Refugee Day is an international day designated to honor refugees around the world and “celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution…” and is “…an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.”
The program included comments from Mayor Brown, Common Council Majority Leader David Rivera, and IIB Executive Director Jennifer Rizzo-Choi. Additionally, former Rwandan refugee, Rubens Mukunzi, offered a poem to reflect the plight of countless refugees who’ve sought safety in the United States over centuries. Mukunzi took English classes at the International Institute of Buffalo after arriving in the U.S. in 2013.
In his comments, Mayor Brown honored the courage it takes for refugees to flee their homes in search of safe horizons.
“As we continue to build an inclusive and equitable city of economic opportunity for all, World Refugee Day gives us another opportunity to welcome Buffalo’s refugee community, show support and recognize their resilience in building their lives,” said Brown.
IIB’s Executive Director, Jennifer Rizzo Choi, emphasized the importance of lending open hands and hearts to those who experience unimaginable suffering. “Today is an important day to remember that each refugee whose face we see on the news is a person who has endured suffering that many of us can’t imagine. It is also an appropriate day to rededicate ourselves to helping them,” said Rizzo-Choi.
To further honor the sacrifice of refugees around the globe, Mayor Brown directed that the top of Buffalo City Hall be lit orange and black in the colors of the refugee flag. He asked the Buffalo Landmark Illumination Team to light landmark buildings and structures throughout the city in the same color.