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Rochester celebrates UN World Refugee Day

Jun 23, 2018

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Rochester celebrated UN World Refugee Day on Saturday.   

The holiday is observed on June 20th each year.

The event began at the Liberty Pole in downtown Rochester, where those who support the refugee community were asked to join in a parade to City Hall.

Vicki Rotollo and Linda Sullivan were there early even in the slight rain. Rotollo says she is just outraged over where the country is headed.

"The values that we've lost and that we are now embracing. I’m a mom and I can’t even imagine having someone take my child away from me and possibly land them 2000 miles away from where I am in another country."

Pamela Adams was holding an umbrella before the parade; she is a Case Manager at Refugees Helping Refugees.

"I’m glad that I guess they've reversed the decision to separate families but there’s still thousands of kids who are lost right now and parents who are worried sick about their children and of course just the criminalization of families crossing the border to begin with is really disturbing."

A few members of the refugee population were also representing their communities and home countries. Myiet Neh is now a US citizen, but he came to Rochester from Burma about 10 years ago.

He says they wanted to show the US government they are grateful to be here, but that it’s hard to watch what’s happening on our Southern border.

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

"It hurts, it hurts because we, we couldn’t do anything so we just wanted to show the support of those people and we just want the families to be together and reunite because family is very important part of our culture."

Another celebration followed the parade at the Lake Avenue Baptist Church with speakers and war survivor testimonies as well as cultural performances.