Monday, 19 June 2017
Refugee Week takes place every year across the world in the week around World Refugee Day on the 20 June. In the UK, Refugee Week is a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the positive contribution of refugees and rich diversity that they bring to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities.
Refugee Week started in 1998 as a direct reaction to hostility in the media and society in general towards refugees and asylum seekers, to try and look beyond the stereotypical ‘refugee’ label and work to counter this negative climate, defending the importance of sanctuary and the benefits it can bring to both refugees and host communities.
Fearmongers talk up the threat of terrorism, but most of the people risking their lives to get to Europe are fleeing the horrors of war in Syria; the brutality of insurgent groups in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia; or the repression of the Eritrean or Iranian governments. Demagogues thunder that asylum seekers just want to steal jobs or bleed the welfare system dry, but almost everyone acknowledges that the EU needs labor migration, and study after study shows that immigration brings net benefits to societies over the long-term.
The aims of Refugee Week are:
1. To encourage a diverse range of events to be held throughout the UK, which facilitate positive encounters between refugees and the general public in order to encourage greater understanding and overcome hostility.
2.To showcase the talent and expertise that refugees bring with them to the UK.
To explore new and creative ways of addressing the relevant issues and reach beyond the refugee sector.
3.To provide information which educates and raises awareness of the reality of refugee experiences
The ultimate aim is to create better understanding between different communities and to encourage successful integration, enabling refugees to live in safety and continue making a valuable contribution.
Refugees are a real, current and terrible problem that we have in our world and possibly one that will get worse as war continues to devastate and uproot people, for instance since the conflict in Syria began more than six years ago, over 4.8m Syrians have fled from their country because of violence, conflict, and a complete collapse of Syria’s economy and infrastructure. Then there are those who have to leaven low lying islands of the world as a consequence of climate change, and people fleeing for their lives as a consequence of famine, violation of human rights, physical, political or religious persecution.
Many refugees and asylum seekers face severe difficulties once they arrive in the UK. Unable to work or support themselves, many struggle for basics such as food and shelter. Some of the key issues they encounter are the possibility of detention, living in destitution and contending with negative stereotypes.Most of those who are granted asylum are given leave to remain for only five years, making it difficult for them to make decisions about their future, including finding work and making definite plans for their life in the UK while it remains unsafe for them to return to the country they escaped from. As fellow humans we have a responsibility to respond to their specific needs in times of crisis. Many of these asylum seekers come to us as a last resort, having exhausted all alternatives, with nowhere else to turn. We should also remember all those suffering abuse in detention centres and those facing repatriation despite the dangers that they face.
Refugee Week is an umbrella festival, with events held by a wide range of arts, voluntary, faith and refugee community organisations, schools, student groups and more. Past events have included arts festivals, exhibitions, film screenings, theatre and dance performances, concerts, football tournaments and public talks, as well as creative and educational activities in schools.
Through Refugee Week the aim is to provide an important opportunity for asylum seekers and refugees to be seen, listened to and valued. We must continue to offer our love , solidarity, tolerance, warm welcome and friendship to refugees who daily have to struggle, many of whom left feeling traumatised and marginalised. Refugees are ordinary people to whom extraordinary and often very horrible things have happened. Refugee Week is an opportunity to celebrate that.
Find out more about Refugee Week here :-