Local refugees and their advocates around the Twin Cities will gather this weekend to celebrate World Refugee Day, established by the United Nations to honor the millions of people worldwide who have been forced from their homes by civil conflict.
A World Refugee Concert will take place tonight at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. The concert will feature Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, a band that formed in a refugee camp during that country's civil war.
On Saturday, more than a dozen social service agencies also will gather for a World Refugee Day festival that will feature educational exhibits, an immigrant resource fair with 60 refugee service providers, an Oromo choir, Somali poets, and dance groups from West Africa and Southeast Asia, said Alexis Walstad, a spokesperson for the event.
"In the Twin Cities, we really try to celebrate the refugee cultures that are here in the TC and all of the refugees that have made the journey to Minnesota," Walstad said.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services estimates that more than 70,000 refugees live in Minnesota -- after fleeing conflicts or persecution in places including Somalia, Laos and Bosnia.
The United Nations established World Refugee Day in 2000 to honor the millions of people forced from their homes by conflicts around the globe.
Tonight's concert begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22 in advance and $25 at the door.
Saturday's event is the third annual large-scale World Refugee Day in the Twin Cities. It will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis and is free and open to the public.