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Refugee Week is all about having fun, broadening horizons and breaking down barriers. Every June the week long UK-wide festival of arts, cultural and educational events celebrates contributions refugees have made to the UK, and promotes understanding about why people seek sanctuary.

No one wants to become a refugee. No one should have to endure this humiliating and arduous ordeal. Yet, millions do. Even one refugee forced to flee, one refugee forced to return to danger is one too many.” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Each year Refugee Week grows and increases in profile, making its mark on the UK’s cultural calendar. This year’s theme Spirit captures:

  • Spirit of survival and the individual – the determination needed to flee persecution and rebuild your life
  • Community spirit – the connections between refugees and local communities
  • Scotland’s spirit – the cultural diversity of Scotland today

The Refugee Week Programme (3.7Mb, PDF) details many events, most of them in Glasgow, some in Edinburgh.

East Lothian Learning Partnership have produced  New Arrival? Your A-Z Guide to East Lothian

A few facts about refugees (who are often confused with economic migrants):

  • People seeking asylum make up just one per cent of the total population of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest and most diverse city.
  • Most of the people who arrive in Scotland seeking sanctuary are from Somalia, China, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran and Zimbabwe.  They have come here fleeing war, torture or persecution.
  • Most of the world’s refugees are given sanctuary in the world’s poorest countries.  The UK hosts only two per cent of some 10 million refugees worldwide.
  • An asylum seeker is someone who has made an application for asylum, or sanctuary, and hopes to be recognised as a refugee.  Everyone in the world has the right to claim asylum in another country if needed.
  • A refugee is someone whose application for asylum has been successful and who has been recognised as having a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country, as described by the United Nations Refugee Convention.
  • Persecution happens when someone is imprisoned, threatened or made a target because of their religion, race, beliefs or belonging to a certain group.
  • While they are waiting to hear if they can stay, people seeking asylum aren’t allowed to work and depend on small amounts of state support.
  • Most people seeking asylum do want to work, and many are professionally trained with lots of skills to offer.
  • Almost one third of refugees have contributed to society by doing voluntary work since arriving in the UK.