World Refugee Day in Tirana
20 June 2023
Tirana, 20 June 2023- In the heart of Tirana, an extraordinary story of artistic expression unfolds on World Refugee Day – a day which falls each year on 20 June and celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution.
Amidst the vibrant atmosphere of a centrally located park in Tirana, a group of young refugees— with unique backgrounds, languages, cultures, and experiences —come together to create something truly remarkable.
Among these children are those who were born in Albania to parents who fled war, conflict, and persecution, while others joined their families on a journey in search of safety, navigating uncertain and sometimes dangerous paths. Their journey led them to Albania, where they found refuge and a new beginning.
This story of artistic expression begins within the walls of the Refugee and Migrant Services in Albania (RMSA) office, UNHCR's partner. Here, a group of young refugee children embark on an inspiring project in anticipation of World Refugee Day.
Each day, the office is alive with a vibrant blend of languages as the young performers gather. With great passion, they immerse themselves in mastering the intricate steps of Albanian dances, rehearsing songs, and reciting poems in Albanian.
After days of hard work and anticipation, the moment arrives at the Grand Park of Tirana on World Refugee Day.
The young performers take their place on the improvised stage. Their hearts beat with excitement, a mix of nervousness and joy filling the air. Despite the various languages spoken amongst them, the rhythm of the Albanian music becomes their shared language on this stage.
Their performance instantly captivates passersby, drawing them to form a circle around the young artists. The onlookers cannot resist joining in. Applause and enthusiastic participation echo through the crowd as they become immersed in the lively dances and joyously sing along to the well-known tunes.
The infectious enthusiasm of one of the youngest members, a small boy, shines brightly. He has certainly dedicated himself to learning the intricate footwork and expressive arm movements of the Vallet e Rugoves, a traditional Albanian dance.
One of the young refugee performers share her experience, saying, "I was super excited and a bit nervous too. But when I saw everyone clapping and having a great time, I felt so relaxed and happy."
Watching the performance, Toshitsuki Kawauchi, UNHCR Representative in Albania, says, "It was very special. The kids worked hard, and it really showed. They have brought their talents and highlighted our shared humanity within the communities where they have found safety."
The Tirana Municipality, offering a central and vibrant venue for this performance, exemplifies Albania's spirit of inclusion.
Behind the scenes, a staff member from the Refugee and Migrant Services in Albania (RMSA), UNHCR's partner, has been present every day as the group of young refugees rehearsed at the center. Reflecting on the preparations and the performances, she shares, "Being a part of this journey and seeing the children's hard work has been truly inspiring. Their genuine excitement as they share their art is absolutely captivating."
On World Refugee Day, the iconic Tirana Clock Tower shone in brilliant blue, a powerful symbol of solidarity #WithRefugees.