refugee week

Refugee Week: “In This Life We Need Each Other”

Refugee Week continues annual tradition in 2020

Refugee Week 2020 runs from 15th June to 21st June in the UK. The aim of the week is not only to bring greater awareness to refugees’ struggles but to promote inclusion, drive forward change, celebrate refugees and their unique perspectives. 

The idea to honour the contributions of refugees began in 1998 and has occurred in June annually ever since.  

refugee week 2020
This year’s Refugee Week celebration is set to the theme, ‘Imagine’. [Image: Imix.]

Refugee Week’s website states that the hope is to “bring about positive encounters between communities, helping them to connect and learn from each other, and promoting a culture of welcome.” 

Local authorities across the UK have organised a wide range of activities from online comedy shows to writing workshops. All events have been designed, created, and put together by the refugee community. Everyone is welcome to attend the online events regardless of their background. 

Refugees’ resilience is seen in the stories of individuals such as Dema Aktaa, a Syrian refugee in the UK who lost her leg due to bombing in her native country, and has helped to raise over £70,000 to deal with the COVID-19 outbreaks in various refugee camps.  

Help Refugees co-founder Josie Naughton said that Dema “has been an inspiration to us all and is incredible not only for what she is doing for others but for her positivity and strength.”   

Dema said: “Helping other people means a lot to me. In this life we need each other.” 

Refugees’ resilience is seen in the stories of individuals such as Dema Aktaa, a Syrian refugee in the UK who lost her leg due to bombing in her native country, and has helped to raise over £70,000 to deal with the COVID-19 outbreaks in various refugee camps

The theme for 2020’s week is ‘imagine’ with Refugee Week organisers stating “when things feel stuck; when the old ways of doing things are no longer working, that’s what we need to do. ‘To imagine’ means to picture something you can’t currently see. To step beyond the current moment and perceive something different.” 

Dema Aktaa
Dema, 26 who lost her leg in a Syrian bomb strike has gone on to raise thousands of pounds for charity by walking. [Image: Dema Aktaa, The Evening Standard.]

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the world along with civil rights movements such as Black Lives Matter, the sentiment feels particularly poignant. Governments and citizens are seeing, some for the first time, that millions of people from all different backgrounds and communities are hopeful for a better, more equal future. 

Refugees and those campaigning for refugees and asylum seekers’ rights have been campaigning for change for a long time. The lack of support the UK government has shown for refugees includes rejecting the Dubs amendment which would have reunited lone child refugees with their families in the UK. This continued dismissal of people’s humanity and dignity is something that should no longer be tolerated or accepted.   

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the world along with civil rights movements such as Black Lives Matter, the sentiment feels particularly poignant

The UK can do better when it comes to its involvement in advancing refugees’ human rights. The Labour Party has recently made a case for this, calling on the UK to assist in border authorisation in North-East Syria.   

It is heart-warming to see refugees being championed by events such as Refugee Week. We can recognise, and work towards, ending the racism, xenophobia and social issues refugees face in Britain as well as celebrate and share their talents, interests, and creations.  

[Header image: Twinkl.]