This week is full of obvious excitement for the World Cup, but the UK is set to host an event that is also global and international as the World Cup: the Refugees Week.
As the organisers say ‘there is so much misinformation circulating about refugees and asylum seekers in the media that it is sometimes hard to work out what is reality and what is myth; this event gives everybody the possibility to learn, question and share an important moment with the refugee population.’
Conferences, exhibitions and parties are going to be held all over the country, creating an opportunity that cannot be missed: the opportunity of understanding.
Refugees have made a massive cultural, social and economic contribution to life in the UK in the last 450 years. Many famous household names have made their presence in the media as refugees: Camille Pisarro, Sigmund Freud, Frank Auerback and Arthur Koestler to name but a few. But media stereotyping has caused a wall of silence and ignorance around refugees stories.
The Refugee Week first started in ‘98 as a response to the negative coverage in the media, and negative perception of refugees amongst the general public. The focus is given to positive experiences, stressing the need of understanding between different communities through theatre, music, dance, film & other events.
Refugee Week is a multi-agency project, with representatives from the partner agencies forming the UK Steering and Operation Groups. The partner agencies currently include: Amnesty International UK, British Red Cross, Oxfam, Refugee Action, Refugee Council, Save the Children Fund UK, Scottish Refugee Council, STAR (Student Action for Refugees),Children’s Society, Time Bank and Welsh Refugee Council. But everybody is more than welcome to participate and contribute organising small events.
On the website (http://www.refugeeweek.org.uk/) you can find interesting material about refugees in Britain, and a detailed program of the events in different cities. Despite the World Cup dominating the media coverage, taking some time to understand the many cultures that live in the UK can have a long term positive effect than just learning Shakira’s chorus ‘Wakka Wakka’.