World Social Work Day March 15, 2016

World Social Work Day 2016 (WSWD) is on March 15th. The theme ‘Promoting the Dignity and Worth of Peoples’. Events will be held all around the world including Geneva, Vienna, Kathmandu, Brussels and New York where our profession will have the opportunity to express solidarity and bring unified messages to local, regional and national governing bodies.

At the United Nations in New York the focus of their celebration will be ‘Refugees and Displaced Persons: Ensuring Dignity and Worth’ and be held on April 4. In light of the Syria crisis and the 9.5 million displaced persons from this country alone; the topic is timely and with a great sense of urgency in seeking dignified solutions for the refugees.

How has Colorado been affected? According to data from the Colorado Refugee Services Program, 2,287 refugees came to Colorado in 2014, predominately from the war-torn countries of Burma, Somalia and Iraq. Only two were from Syria.

Those numbers are likely to increase this year.

Colorado receives millions in federal funds for refugee services, 95 percent of which is passed through the state to organizations that provide refugees with a cash stipend, housing, job training, English language lessons, an introduction to American culture and a support system.

“The most recent Syrian refugees – five of them – are engaged and contributing to our communities,” said Alicia Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Human Services, which oversees the refugee services program. “They comprise two households, and the heads of each of those households is employed.”

It was not clear where the refugees live in Colorado.

Displaced individuals first must prove they are unable to return home because of a fear of persecution to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Once classified as a refugee, the United States considers applicants who are referred by the U.N., a U.S. Embassy or other non-governmental organizations providing relief work.

The theme reflects a core value of professional social work; social workers respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person. In Colorado and internationally, social workers play vital roles in addressing the needs of refugees, for example through direct service, community practice and policy advocacy. Please visit


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