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World Refugee Day highlights contributions of refugees, celebrates Michigan being a safe, welcoming state

With over 70 million people around the world forced to flee their homes due to violence and persecution, Gov. Whitmer proclaims June 20 as World Refugee Day in Michigan, to highlight Michigan as a safe and welcoming home to many looking for hope and opportunity, and to acknowledge their struggle and protect their human rights.

Refugees living in the U.S. and several Michigan cities make tremendous contributions to our economy as earners, taxpayers and consumers just like all immigrants, and to ensure their collective success the state's Office of Global Michigan (OGM) offers supportive services as they adjust to their new homes.

"Michigan has stepped up to meet the needs and welcome thousands of refugees who are in eager to be contributing members of society," said OGM Director Fayrouz Saad. "Through our services and resources, we are providing a sturdy foundation to rebuild their lives and opportunities for success."

OGM's Refugee Services program leverages federal, state and local resources to ensure refugees can contribute to their highest potential and use their talents to make Michigan continue to thrive. The program contracts with various non-profit and local agencies to provide social services to help people start over, become self-sufficient and integrate with their new community. 

Five Michigan agencies, funded through the federal Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration in the Department of State, provide initial reception and placement services for the first 30 to 90 days in the United States for people who have just arrived in the country with refugee status.

The following agencies in Michigan assist with that initial resettlement process:

The state recognizes World Refugee Day as a time engage in conversation about the global need to welcome refugees and understand that fleeing their home country is often just the beginning of a difficult journey.

"We encourage Michigan residents to recognize the perseverance and accomplishments of their new neighbors and reflect on the severity of the global refugee crisis," Saad added.

Join the conversation online using #WorldRefugeeDay and visit for the digital toolkit and refugee stories.  

Quotes from refugees who have made Michigan home 

"I hope my story and journey will encourage others to have confidence in themselves and not fall into the belief that they must depend on social and government assistance to live in the U.S.," said Cuban American Tamara Silva Peregrin, who fled Cuba in 1994. "Most people who come to this country have the intention of being independent and productive, and I believe they should be able to just that."

"I immigrated to the United States in 2019 from Kenya because I wanted to make a better life and really to actualize my full potential," said Brain Nagila, who fled Kenya in 2019. "It was not an easy journey but I kept hope alive and yearned for a better tomorrow."

"In August 2020, we moved our family to Michigan where we were received by Samaritas, the local resettlement agency," said Noura Al Qalam, who fled war in Syria. "It was the middle of a worldwide pandemic and it was very difficult for us all, but the agency and its staff assisted us with finding a home in Detroit and helped meet our other needs."