One of the most pressing issues the world faces today is the refugee crisis; according to the UN Refugee Agency, there were 59.5 million forcibly displaced people by the end of 2014, the highest level since the Second World War. Of these, over 20 million are refugees or asylum seekers, while the rest are internally displaced (people displaced within their own countries). The majority of these refugees (86% according to the UN) go to developing countries, usually neighbouring ones. Syrian refugees are the largest group (4.8 million by January 2017); over half go to Turkey (2.7 million) while large numbers go to Lebanon (1.5 million) and Jordan (1.2 million). Many seek refuge in Europe as well, with Germany taking in the most refugees. By 2015, the UN estimated that the UK provided shelter for approximately 117,000 refugees and asylum seekers (0.18% of the population). A number of organisations have been set up throughout the UK aimed at helping these refugees with legal advice, accommodation, food and clothes, employment, and often just providing them with the opportunity to meet other people and interact with the wider community. Red Roses Refugees is a group set up to assist such organisations in Lancaster.
Red Roses Refugees was set up last year by students from Lancaster University with the aim of working with Lancaster University Students’ Union to pressure the university into providing scholarships for people from war-torn countries. In order to do this, they launched social media campaigns to help publicise their cause, as well as poster campaigns and online petitions through which they reached many people. This year, Red Roses Refugees aims to continue to pressure the university into providing those scholarships while also supporting Lancaster-based refugee support groups such as Lancaster City of Sanctuary and Lancaster and Morecambe Asylum and Refugee Support. In order to do this, the group aims to spread awareness about the plight of refugees and the support they need, as well as provide information to volunteers interested in helping out and pointing them to the organisations that need most support. The group also plans on raising funds which will be donated to refugee-support organisations in Lancaster.
One of the primary goals of the group is to hold more events on campus, in order to raise awareness about refugee issues and provide opportunities for students to get involved in activism aimed at supporting refugees. These events will include panel discussions, talks and presentations involving Lancaster University faculty and representatives from refugee-support organisations. The first event will be held on 23rd February 6PM-7PM (location to be confirmed), and will involve an introduction of the group exec and an outline of what Red Roses Refugees is planning for the future. Dr. Amalendu Misra, who is a senior lecturer at the university, will also give a short talk about the politics of the refugee crisis, in particular the UK’s response to it. In addition, representatives of two Lancaster-based refugee-support NGOs, Lancaster City of Sanctuary and Lancaster and Morecambe Asylum and Refugee Support, will be outlining their activities in Lancaster and providing information on how students can get involved. At the end, there will also be a short Q&A. Students interested in learning more about this important issue, as well as those interested in helping out, should definitely come along!
For more information about Red Roses Refugees, the event on 23rd February, or about volunteering/getting involved, feel free to message the group from their facebook page: