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Refugee Week: Real lives and real people

This week, Law Centre NI stands with others in proudly celebrating Refugee Week.

As part of Law Centre NI’s Refugee Week celebrations, Vicky Tennant, the UNHCR Representative to the UK, will deliver our annual Refugee Week Lecture at Belfast City Hall on Thursday 22 June.

Vicky, who is originally from Belfast, will speak about “Refugees and forced displacement: global trends, local impacts”.

Speaking ahead of her visit, Vicky said: “Across the world, the number of people displaced by war or persecution stands at a new record of 108 million. 19 million higher than the year before, the biggest ever year-on-year increase. The vast majority of those forced to flee seek safety within their home countries or in countries bordering those they are fleeing. For the small minority that seek protection here in the UK, it is imperative that our response is one grounded in compassion.

“In my work with the UN Refugee Agency around the world, I have seen for myself how communities come together to deliver on that compassion in support of refugees. It is visible every day here in Northern Ireland and is visible across all four corners of the UK. It can be seen in the actions of the community groups, individuals and organisations who are working to make the lives of refugees that little bit easier as they settle into a new life in this country. Refugee Week is a chance to celebrate not just the incredible compassion of so many people, but the way in which these kind actions encourage more kind actions in turn.”

Director of Law Centre NI, Ursula O’Hare said: “We are delighted to welcome Vicky to deliver our annual Refugee Week Lecture. As we celebrate refugees and asylum seekers and the contributions that they make to our community, we also reflect on their experiences as they flee war, conflict and persecution.  In the shadow of the Illegal Migration Bill, we remind everyone that behind all their stories are real lives and real people.”

The Law Centre’s Refugee Week Lecture will be held in honour of our beloved friend and colleague, Ronnie Vellem, who – having fled persecution in Zimbabwe – spent years helping those who came to Northern Ireland following a similar path to him.  He passed away last year, but he has left behind a wonderful legacy.