Celebrating 65 years of saving lives

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28 Jul 2016

Today the Refugee Council is celebrating 65 years of saving lives.

On this day in 1951 in an unremarkable room in Geneva, a life saving commitment was made when a group of 26 nations signed the Refugee Convention.

At that time, the horrors of the War were still fresh in everyone’s minds. Just a few years prior, amidst Europe’s darkest days, western nations had shamefully turned boatloads of Jewish refugees away from safety. The Refugee Convention was signed as a promise that those mistakes would never be made again. It’s often called the Magna Carta of international refugee law.

At the same time back here in Britain, the organisations which later became the Refugee Council were founded to ensure that refugees who sought safety in Britain had somewhere to turn.

65 years on, amidst a global displacement crisis of historic levels, we’re celebrating the importance of protecting refugees.

As part of our celebrations, refugees who have fled to Britain throughout the past six and a half decades are sharing their stories of finding refuge here and calling for Britain to continue protecting refugees.

Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said: "The Refugee Convention isn’t just a piece of paper; it’s one of the most powerful ideals in the world. It’s saved millions of lives; some of them right here in Britain.

"At a time when more people have been forced to flee their homes than ever before, it’s essential that the UK continue this life saving tradition of offering protection to those whose lives depend on it.”

Find out more about the refugees who’ve found shelter here throughout history.