Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Annual World Refugee Day celebration returns to Pittsburgh’s Schenley Plaza

 A woman stands next to a painting that says "Pittsburgh Builds Bridges."
Courtesy of World Refugee Day
The refugee resettlement non-profit agency Acculturation for Justice, Access and Peace Outreach is hosting their annual World Refugee Day event on June 20th at Schenley Plaza.

Pittsburgh’s annual World Refugee Day and Immigrant Heritage Month Celebration will take place on Tuesday at Schenley Plaza in Oakland.

A collaboration of community groups, including the Acculturation for Justice, Access and Peace Outreach (AJAPO) Refugee Immigrant Services, organized the event, which was first officially celebrated in 2000.

Executive director of the AJAPO Yinka Aganga-Williams said the event brings awareness to the lives and experiences of refugees.

“These are people who have suffered from various types of violence, persecution before,” Aganga-Williams said. “Eventually, they kind of get access to come to more developed countries in the world.”

According to the research group Refugees in Towns, more than 2,600 refugees arrived in Pittsburgh between 2010 and 2019, the number is continuing to increase.

 A woman holds two fans with fabric flowing from them while she dances in a park.
Courtesy of World Refugee Day
A performer at last year's World Refugee Day.

The event will have all different kinds of performances, speeches from local officials and activists and global food options. Matthew Hess, senior operations director at Global Wordsmiths and one of the event’s coordinators, said there will also be a “naturalization ceremony for those that pass their citizenship tests.”

“This year the theme is hope away from home and so it’s including refugees in the communities where they have found safety and helping them to rebuild their lives here,” Hess said.

A recent report from the region’s four refugee resettlement agencies with federal contracts, which includes AJAPO, said that between October 2021 and October 2022, agency leaders in the region helped relocate more than 1,000 people fleeing conflict, persecution and disaster.

“Without them and the rest of the community, there would be no World Refugee Day,” Aganga-Williams said.

For anyone needing transportation to the event there will be a shuttle running from Downtown Wood Street T Station starting at 3:30 p.m. The event will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Isabella is a rising senior at Duquesne University majoring in multiplatform journalism and communications and is a division one rower on their women's rowing team. She's had many articles published as the Features Editor for Duquesne's student-run newspaper, The Duquesne Duke. In her free time, she enjoys running, watching new shows and reading.