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In The News

Looking Forward to Refugee Week

Successfully sending volunteers abroad for 10 years

This year, Refugee Week is running from the 18th to 24th of June, in a festival that aims to show support and solidarity for refugees around the world, as well as celebrating the huge contributions migrants make to society.

The event encourages UK residents to consider the reasons individuals may seek refuge, and the complex experience of adapting to a new country after hardship. According to the official Refugee Week website, the festival aims to:

  • Promote understanding of the realities of refugee experiences
  • Defend the importance of sanctuary
  • Explore creative ways of addressing the relevant issues
  • Transform hostility into respect and compassion
  • Enable, ultimately, successful integration of refugees.
Refugee Week was initiated in 1998 ‘as a direct reaction to hostility in the media and society in general towards refugees and asylum seekers’. Since then it has grown and become a vital part of the UK’s cultural calendar.

This year is the event's 20th anniversary, and to celebrate, the organisaton have created the '20 Simple Acts' campaign, which encourages participants to do one of 20 simple acts throughout Refugee Week to deepen their understanding of the refugee experience, and show support to refugees in the UK. These acts include everything from recording a welcome message to new refugees, to sending a card, baking a cake, reading a book about exile, or having a kick-about.

In 2016, both Nigeria and Sudan were among the top ten countries of origin for individuals applying for asylum in the UK. In fact, 90 per cent of refugees in the UK cam from Asian or African countries.

But here’s a fact: Did you know that by mid-2015 the total number of refugees living in the UK was 117 200, less than 0.25% of this country’s population, and less than 0.01% of all refugees worldwide? Two years down the line it is very much still the case that the story here, significant as it is, is just one piece in a very big puzzle.

Sorry to throw so many figures at you, but they’re good for getting some perspective on things… Did you know that in the first half of 2016, 3.2 million people were displaced from their homes worldwide, and most of these found shelter in low- or middle- income countries? Turkey sheltered the most people, and Kenya was 7th on the list, taking 5 times more refugees than the UK.

Refugees are not the only displaced people in Kenya - the country contains an estimated 138,000 internally displaced people (IDP) who, in the past, were forced to re-locate their homes due to largely political disruption. These people live in huge IDP camps, and often face little prospect of returning home.

Agape Volunteers offers support to those living in an IDP camp in Kenya by funding community projects and providing volunteers. If you're interested in learning more about the experiences of internally displaced people, volunteers on any of our Kenya programmes will have the opportunity to visit the camp, for no additional cost.

So, make sure you show compassion for your fellow people who are refugees this June - and always.

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