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Refugee agency promotes food as unifying force in forcibly displaced community

Posted: Tuesday, February 8, 2022. 10:57 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Ever tried Belizean rice and beans with a Salvadoran touch? How about Dominican-Venezuelan arepas, abrasileiradas cachapas, or shawarma with chimichurri?

A special cookbook of recipes from refugees and forcibly displaced persons has been prepared by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), titled From Our Table to Yours: Fusion Cuisine.

In it, you can find preparations of these dishes and more as seen through 14 refugees and forcibly displaced persons who share their stories, memories, emotions, the dreams they have achieved, and the ones that are yet to be fulfilled. In their preparations, they showcase how gastronomy has allowed them to resume their lives.

“At UNHCR, we believe in the power of gastronomy as a key way to foster inclusion and dialogue between communities,” says José Samaniego, UNHCR’s Regional Director for the Americas. “Behind every displaced person there is a story of loss and uprooting, but also a wealth of hope, skills, and opportunities.”

“This recipe reflects who I am, it’s a mix of where I come from and where I live today. It’s a way to say thank you and to represent my country” says Mike, a Venezuelan in the Dominican Republic.

“Nicacapín represents the union between two countries: Nicaragua, with the gallo pinto that I used to eat at my grandmother’s house, and the churrasco, which is so typical of Guatemala. Together, they represent brotherhood,” says Wilmer, a Nicaraguan living in Guatemala.

The Americas region is home to more than 18 million forcibly displaced persons. Refugees and others displaced can contribute to their host communities if they have the opportunity to integrate and use their skills and talents.

UNHCR in the Americas works to protect millions of forcibly displaced people in the region and provide them with durable solutions that allow them to rebuild their lives. UNHCR implements a range of activities that promote inclusion and offer training and support for small businesses, including gastronomic initiatives.

Much more than a recipe book, From Our Table to Yours: Fusion Cuisine is a book that reflects the stories of millions of people who have been forced to leave their homes. It is also a call to all countries in the region to promote the inclusion of refugees and forcibly displaced people in order to build stronger societies.

UNHCR invites you to download this recipe book for free, try the recipes, and share your results on social media with photos or videos of the meal you prepared with the hashtag #CookWithRefugees.


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