Report back from WAR AND REFUGEES meeting, Bosnia Herzegovina Centre (Refugee Centre), Tuesday 10th May 2016:
Twenty-six people attended a vibrant and informative evening in which recurring themes emerged:
the positive contributions made by many of those who have sought refuge in this country.
the importance of involving asylum seekers in the forum.
the value of individual action.
the importance of sharing information and knowledge.
thinking laterally about how one person can make a difference; eg how / where we spend our money, introduce to ‘mainstream’ events, offer speakers to groups.
involve politicians in events and discussions (keep pushing them for this).
all of the above can create a climate for political change.
STUDENT ACTION FOR REFUGEES, University of Derby. Emma Monkman spoke of die-ins, information stalls and the group’s ambitions, including 5 sponsored places at the university.
DE SOLIDARITY, Derby. Janet Fuller spoke of her experiences at Dunkirk refugee camp and Bob highlighted the plight of the 500 migrants homeless on the streets of Paris.
DERBY CITY OF SANCTUARY: “a city that takes pride in the welcome it offers to people in need of safety”. Maureen Pridden spoke about Refugee Week: a week’s programme of activities 21-26 June, including performance and a discussion involving Justin Welby.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, Derby group. Imti Choonara emphasised the role of armed conflict in creating refugees: the fact that the conflict was not officially-declared as a war was irrelevant; he also highlighted the plight of children (1:6 of refugees) in such situations.
MULTI-FAITH CENTRE, University of Derby. Alex spoke of the the advocacy work and information-sharing at the MFC and her involvement in a project with Roma in the city.
VERY REVD GEOFFREY MARSHALL was involved in setting up Shelter in 1966, was later involved in the Multi-Faith Centre at the Uni, helped organise the first Holocaust Memorial Day in Derby and persuaded the then new Uni to offer free places to 2 Palestinian students.
ACTING ALONE. Ava Hunt spoke about her play ‘Acting Alone’ which tells the stories of some of the people Ava met on her visit to Palestine and asks the question of the audience: “Can one person actually make a difference?
FREEDOM FROM TORTURE. Judy spoke of the premise of FfT: “to support survivors of torture”, its training work and her involvement with the FfT groups in Nottingham & Manchester.
DERBY REFUGEE ADVICE CENTRE. David Callow spoke of the ongoing work at DRAC, the high level of interest in volunteering at the centre and their involvement in planning the events for Refugee Week, 2016.
PALESTINIAN SOLIDARITY, Derby. Links are being developed with two schools in Hebron and there is a MOU with the Mayor of Hebron.
** FUTURE **
A small group of interested people to meet again in early July to put in place a programme of events /actions to which asylum seekers will be invited.
There was a consensus that national & local politicians should be invited to a meeting in the autumn.