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On 21 June, the Civic Alliance organized an event on the occasion of World Refugee Day, in cooperation with the municipality of Bar. The event was held on the plateau of King Nikola’s Castle in Bar as part of World Refugee Day through a joint program with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Montenegro. This program is a leading national project initiative to support asylum seekers, refugees, displaced and internally displaced persons, as well as persons at risk of statelessness.
The program was officially opened by Radovan Popović, Director General of the Directorate for Administrative Affairs, Citizenship and Foreigners in the Ministry of the Interior, Jean Yves Bouchardi, Head of the UNHCR Office, Damir Rašketić, Vice President of Bar Municipality and Milan Radović, Program Director at the Civic Alliance.

During the introductory address, Mr. Radovan Popović said that once again, Montenegro and its institutions at the state and local level, as well as the citizens, showed a high degree of empathy and solidarity when it comes to taking care of refugees in a timely manner. He emphasized that our country has demonstrated its attitude towards refugees with an open door policy and has earned an excellent reputation due to humanitarian principles in fair and equal treatment of all refugees.

On behalf of the municipality of Bar, Mr. Damir Rašketić addressed the participants and welcomed everyone who was there to mark the World Refugee Day and thus join all those around the world who remind us of the strength and courage of those most vulnerable – persons who were forced to leave their homes to avoid conflicts, violence or persecution. He emphasized that even during the nineties, Bar showed absolute commitment and hospitality to people who had to seek safety far from their hearths due to conflicts in the region, opening its doors to numerous refugees and displaced persons. At the end of his address, Mr. Rašketić said that only together we could provide a systemic response on which the future of refugees in our country and the character of our society will depend.

Jean Yves Bouchardi, Head of the UNHCR office in Montenegro, expressed his gratitude on behalf of the UNHCR for the warm welcome and support that the citizens of Bar provided to the Ukrainian refugees who found safety in that city. He said that today Montenegro is one of the countries with the largest number of Ukrainian refugees per capita in the world and that it is a country that has a long-standing tradition of keeping its borders open for people who are forced to leave their homes.

As stated by Milan Radović, Program Director of the Civic Alliance, World Refugee Day is not exactly a day to be celebrated, bearing in mind the stories of people forced to flee their homes in order to save themselves and their family members. This causes a series of human rights violations – most often massive violations of human rights, starting with the right to life, the right to security, family, home, work, education, etc. According to him, this day should have another name – Refugee Support Day – because solidarity is something that these people need the most.

The event included creative and artistic performances. The exhibition of works by Ukrainian children participating in the VI international art festival MALYUY.UA, organized by the association for the development of international relations ADRUM, particularly marked this event and its importance.

The commemoration of World Refugee Day was attended by representatives of the Embassy of Ukraine in Montenegro, the municipality of Bar, the Ministry of the Interior and other local institutions and non-governmental organizations dealing with the system of international and temporary protection.