Refugee Week celebrates diverse Britain

Thousands of people are expected to take part in Britain's fifth annual Refugee Week.

The event, organised mainly by the Refugee Council along with a consortium of other refugee organisations, will run from June 16 to 22, and will help raise awareness for why people seek refuge.

Over three hundred events are to be held in UK cities, in schools, universities and youth groups; representing a cultural feast of music, dance, theatre, film, political debates, and sports.

The theme for this year's event is young people.

Events were launched on Sunday from London's South Bank, as part of the Coin Street festival. The launch featured live music from Iraq, and a traditional Indian dance about the plight of migrants, as well as dancers from Ethiopia with food and drink from Britain's diverse range of refugee communities.

Refugee week's main message is to counter the ignorance and stereotyping that refugees often receive in the UK. Many refugees arrive in Britain in isolation, away from their loved ones.

Another aim of Refugee week is to highlight the plight of refugees as people who live in exile.

Terry Williams, national co-ordinator for the Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Media project (RAM), has been advising groups around the country on how to make the most of Refugee Week.

He said: "Refugee week is about creating a better public understanding of why refugees leave their countries and come to the UK, such as war and conflict. An important part of refugee week this year has been highlighting why refugee children arrive in Britain. The parents of these children are desperate to send them to places of safety, while they continue to remain in dangerous situations back in their own countries."

The week will also celebrate the positive things refugees bring to the UK, such as the huge contribution they have made to the UK's economy.

Home Office research from 2000 shows refugees make a valuable net contribution to the UK economy.