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Refugee Dream Center celebrates World Refugee Day as America turns its back



The Refugee Dream Center celebrated World Refugee Day with song, dance, food, poetry and visits from elected officials.

“We have over 65 million people displaced around the world,” said Omar Bah, Founder and Executive Director of the Refugee Dream Center. “Most of the time it’s because of war and conflicts, suffering that is caused by human beings.” 22 million out of the 65 million people displaced are registered as refugees, so 40 million are unaccounted for. Of those 22 million, less than one percent are settled out of refugee camps.

“America used to resettle most of these people,” continued Bah. “Until about one or two years ago. And we know what happened. An average of 100 thousand people used to come to America every year… but last year that number dropped to 53 thousand. This year we are expecting between 19 or 20 thousand.”

As to America’s policy of separating refugee children from their parents at the border, Bah, an American citizen by choice, was unequivocal. “We cannot be quiet today, when America, the leader of the moral attitude of this world, is imprisoning and putting children in concentration camps within this country…”

“We cannot be quiet about it,” continued Bah. “We cannot be silent. We want everybody, every moral voice to rise up and be heard and condemn this to the utmost breath, to make sure that this does not happen.”

“It’s great to see kids running around, having fun,” said United States Senator Jack Reed, “and not – and doing it with their parents.” Reed was very critical of the Trump Administration policy of separating children at the border and treating asylum seekers as criminals.

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“We should not forget that Rhode Island has a special responsibility because Rhode Island was settled by a refugee,” said United States Representative David Cicilline, who recently visited the border to see the children locked away in cages. “Roger Williams came to Rhode Island because he was fleeing religious persecution.”

State Treasurer Seth Magaziner:

Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee:


Prayer from Pastor Rick Moore:

Prayer from Waleed Muhammad:

Fred Sneesby, State Refugee Coordinator


Catarina Lorenzo from AMOR (Alliance Mobilizing Our Resistance):

Bernard Georges, New Bridges for Haitian Success:

Senegalese Drummers:

Augustine Kanjia, Sierra Leonean/Gambian Journalist based in Worcester, Massachusetts:

Keith Cooper, Beautiful Day:

Drama sketch on domestic violence:

Night Jean:

Sylvia Ann Soares read three poems by and about refugees. Background drumming by Marco McWilliams and the Senegalese Drummers. First up is “Lament for Syria” by Amineh Abou Kerech.

Home” by Warsan Shire:

They Belong” by sweetjr05

Night Jean:

Mustafa Alsawaf:

Kamar Gure:

Bowie a refugee from Burma:

Mohammed Alsawaf:

Sterk Zaza from AHOPE:

Music from The Chin Brothers:

DJ Low P:

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.