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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.

Hundreds of millions of girls and boys throughout the world are engaged in work that deprives them of adequate education, health, leisure and basic freedoms, violating their rights. Of these children, more than half are exposed to the worst forms of child labour such as work in hazardous environments, slavery, or other forms of forced labour, illicit activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the first World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 as a way to highlight the plight of these children. The day, which is observed on June 12th, is intended to serve as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour, reflected in the huge number of ratifications of ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour and ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for employment.

The World Day Against Child Labour provides and opportunity to gain further support of individual governments and that of the ILO social partners, civil society and others, including schools, youth and women’s groups as well as the media, in the campaign against child labour.

May 17 was chosen because the date is the anniversary of the World Health Organization’s May 1990 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. This victory of the lesbian-gay-bisexual and transgender (LGBT) cause was a historic step towards considering freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity as a fundamental basic human right.

The objective is to provoke action. Actions can take place in a number of different forms: a debate in the classroom, an exhibition in a cafe, a demonstration in the street, a radio program, a screening in a neighbourhood home, a round table organized by a political party, a short story competition sponsored by a newspaper, an awareness campaign led by an association, etc. These initiatives can be backed by LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans) associations, by human rights organizations, but also by women and men of any background and interest. In fact, today many people who are not specifically interested in questions of homosexuality are worried about the problem of homophobia.

Find out more:

52% of Americans find homosexual relationships “morally acceptable”
(Gallup Survey, May 2010)
5 x Young Dutch LGBT people are up to five times as likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers
Social and Cultural Research Agency (SCP) -
91% of Dutch people claim to accept homosexuality
48% of French people are in favor of adoption by same-sex couples
(French Center for Research on Lifestyles – CREDOC, July 2010)
11 countries recognize same sex marriage rights
Wikipedia - wikipedia
45% of Americans favor marriage equality for same-sex couples
(Pew Research Center 2010) - Pink News Same-Sex Marriage USA
76 Countries in 2010 prosecute people on ground of their sexual orientation
ILGA report on State sponsored Homophobia - ILGA website