Next week is Refugee Week – the one week in the year when we try to forget the injustices faced by asylum seekers and refugees and celebrate the contribution refugees have made to the UK. Fish and chips, Marks and Spencers, the Mini – all classic British institutions, all created by refugees.
There are events up and down the UK which create a space for encounters between refugees and the host community – find out if there’s anything in your area here.
As part of the Refugee Council’s contribution we have created a Refugee Week blog with different guest editors every couple of days. Today, Jon Cruddas, the MP for Dagenham where he has been engaged in fighting the BNP threat, has written a piece defending multiculturalism:
“Growing insecurity in such areas as housing, education, public services and low pay means that refugees are often the focus of the kind of hostility that has been successfully whipped up by the racist British National Party. Underlying all this is a need to defend and celebrate multiculturalism. People come to live and work in the UK not just for economic reasons, but because we have a tradition of offering sanctuary, allowing people to be equal but different, in keeping with the essential British values of tolerance and fair play.”
He also raises some interesting questions about how we might respond to ‘climate refugees’ – people who flee the results of climate change:
“As our planet becomes hotter, there will be increases in the intensity of natural disasters and an increased danger of conflict over scarce resources. As the 21st century unfolds, the term ‘climate refugee’ will become more and more common. We could see 200 million people become refugees as their homes are hit by drought and flood.”
You can read the full blog and add your comments here.
Enjoy Refugee Week!