Founded in 1998 and held every year around World Refugee Day on the 20th of June, Refugee Week is a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary.
Refugee Week gives us the opportunity to recognise and celebrate the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and other forced migrants. Held every year, Refugee Week encourages us to consider why people are forced to leave their countries and the challenges they face in seeking safety. Refugee Week is an opportunity for us to connect, listen and learn from each other. This year's Refugee Week theme is 'Healing'.
For Refugee Week in 2022, the Forced Migration Unit worked with the Institute for Policy and Engagement and our other colleagues throughout the university to create a range of resources. Through these resources, we hope to educate people about current policy issues and debates relating to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, as well as about the refugee experience and the challenges refugees face.
Download our infographic for key facts on refugees and asylum seekers in the UK
Refugee Week blogs
In ‘Offshore detention: what Australia’s experiences suggest for the UK’, FMU head, Natalie Hodgson draws on her experience researching Australia’s offshore detention system to discuss the UK Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing and resettlement. She identifies four potential problems that might emerge: insufficient facilities and systems, a lack of safety for asylum seekers, psychological harm and the potential for constructive refoulement. She concludes that the best way to avoid these problems is to abandon the Rwanda plan altogether: ‘Australia’s offshore detention policy was cruel, costly and ineffective – the UK should not follow in Australia’s footsteps.’
In ‘Aromas that nurture: sharing sensory experiences with the refugee community’, Roda Madziva writes about her research with refugee families and the challenges they face navigating the British asylum system. In the blog, Roda lets refugees explain in their own words the challenges they have faced and the ways they have worked to build a sense of community in the UK. She concludes by telling us that ‘communities need to support refugees and acknowledge the value they add through the skills they bring, contributing to culture and the vibrancy of our society.'
An Interview with Dr Thamil Ananthavinayagan
HRLC member, Dr Thamil Ananthavinayagan took some time to speak with the Institute for Policy and Engagement about his personal experiences with refugehood.
Thamil’s parents were forced to leave Sri Lanka and move to Germany in the early 1980s, where Thamil was born and educated.
In this video, Thamil reflects on his upbringing and how his experiences have shaped his approach to teaching and research. In particular, Thamil discusses his interest in Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) and human rights from a decolonial perspective.
There are certain moments in life when you have to do the right thing and to do the right thing means to stand up against injustices.
Knowledge, Engaged! Podcast
HRLC’s Refugee Clinic student caseworkers Oliver Leicester, Megan Firth, Dana Ali and Nimrah Taimour, produced and hosted an episode of the Institute for Policy and Engagement’s podcast. With guests Baroness Sally Hamwee, Sebastian Bretnall from the Nottingham and Notts Refuge Forum and Dr Natalie Hodgson from the Forced Migration Unit, our students took the opportunity to ask questions about the pressing issues facing refugees and asylum seekers today.
Their discussion spanned important issues including the Nationality and Borders Act, asylum seeker Channel crossings and asylum seekers’ right to work. This podcast was produced with the support of HRLC Research and Projects Assistant, Zinat Jimada.
Listen to the podcast
Refugee week is a fantastic opportunity for people to get out of their usual spaces and to understand what life as a refugee might be like, and also to understand that refugees and asylum seekers are exactly the same as you and I.
Want to learn more?
We asked our School of Law staff for their recommendations for stories about refugees. Here’s what they said:
- Nicholas Gervassis recommends Exodus, a documentary about Syrian refugees crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey into Greece, and Exodus: Our Journey to Europe, a TV series filmed by refugees who documented their journeys to Europe.
- Matthew Windsor recommends the movie Flee, an animated documentary about one man’s experiences leaving Afghanistan for Denmark. Matthew also suggests The Naked Don’t Fear the Water by Matthieu Aikins, which tells the true story of Aikins’ journey from Afghanistan to Europe with his friend Omar.
- Dio Pelekis recommends When the Stars are Scattered by Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson, a graphic novel for children describing life in a Kenyan refugee camp, and For Sama, a documentary about Waad Al-Kateab's experiences as a woman living in Aleppo during the conflict in Syria.
- Reza Beheshti recommends No Friend but the Mountains by Behrouz Boochani. Behrouz is a Kurdish novelist and journalist who spent six years in detention on Manus Island.
- Natalie Hodgson recommends the book Escape from Manus Prison by Javiet Ealom. This book tells the story of Javier's time in one of Australia's offshore detention centres, how he managed to break out of detention and the people who helped him travel to Canada.
- Estelle Derclaye recommends Le Havre, a film about a African boy who arrives in France, and Limbo, a film about four asylum seekers who are living in Scotland while they wait for a decision on their refugee claims.
- Louise Savage recommends We are all Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan, which switches perspectives between present-day Leicester and the expulsion of East African Ugandans under Idi Amin in the 1960s, and Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob,
- For under 13s, Nell Munro and her family recommend Judith Kerr’s Out of the Hitler Time books, Once by Morris Gleitzman, The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Rauf and Anna at War by Helen Peters. For under 5s, they recommend Everybody's Welcome by Patricia Hegarty, The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr and The Smeds and the Smoos by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.