Refugee Week : 20th-26th June 2022
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word refugee originates from two Latin words: “fugere” meaning to flee and “refugium” – a place to flee back to. But specifically, the word refugee was first noted in 1685. It referred to the 50,000 Huguenots, French Protestants who fled religious intolerance in their home country.
There are no identifiable Huguenots today, but that’s the point about refugees – as local, national and global circumstances change, so do the movement of people and the labels we attach to them. Wherever there is war, famine, natural disasters or a clampdown on human rights, there will be refugees.
So, there have been refugees since there have been established human communities around the world, but it wasn’t until 1951 that there was an international standard on how to treat them. The Refugee Convention defined a refugee as someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted.
A refugee’s journey can be long, dangerous and highly publicised, but in fact, most refugees don’t travel far. Most stay in neighbouring countries until it’s safe enough for them to return home. Those who travel the furthest often feel the most alienated and are often least welcome in their host countries. With this in mind, Refugee Week is a UK-wide festival that celebrates the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary.
Refugee Week 2022 this year
This year’s festival runs from 22th-26th June. Its theme is healing – a celebration of community, mutual care and the human ability to start again. It will promote a programme of arts, cultural, sports and educational events alongside media and creative campaigns.
Here at Edinburgh Napier University, we have an amazing project designing refugee housing by Lara Alshawawreh. Check it out here.
In addition, if you want to get involved, please see here: https://refugeeweek.org.uk/
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By Lesley McRobb