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05 maart 2012

Students raise asylum awareness

Leicester residents who fled their home countries to escape persecution will speak about the challenges of the UK asylum process for a student-led awareness week.
The University of Leicester’s first Refugee Week, organised entirely by students, aims to give a voice to refugees in Leicester and promote the human rights of asylum seekers detained after entering the UK.
The week, which runs from March 5 to 9, was funded by the United Nations society and will feature a series of events and activities on campus to raise money for asylum seeker charity City of Sanctuary.
There will be a film screening of Canadian drama Incendies, which depicts the plight of a family who escape their war-torn birth land in the Middle East, on Monday, March 5 at 6pm in the Attenborough Film Theatre.
A Zimbabwean choir will perform on Wednesday night from 6pm at the Cave, Percy Gee building, followed by testimonials from Leicester refugees.
A panel of asylum seekers, academics and charity workers will debate “Refugees and Human Rights” on Thursday at Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre 2 from 6pm.
Organisers have put together a magazine, Article 14, to accompany the week's events, which includes interviews with asylum seekers living in Leicester and opinion columns by City of Sanctuary staff and volunteers.
It features an interview with Leicester writer Ambrose Musiyiwa, who wrote Diary of an Asylum Seeker during his six-year asylum seeking process after escaping from political persecution in his native Zimbabwe.
The magazine also sets out the facts and figures about immigration in the UK – and aims to debunk some of the myths surrounding refugees and asylum seekers.
The week will also feature a range of activities for students at the university, and students at Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College and  Regent College have been invited to come and take part.
Organiser and United Nations society vice president Gabrielle Couchman, 21, who is in her final year studying English Law and French Law, said: “The week is a campaign to get people caring about refugees and their human rights. Refugees are a minority and students and the general population don’t really pick up on the problems they face.
“We as a nation really should promote their human rights, and be able to protect them once they are in this country. The UK provides asylum to a smaller percentage of the world’s refugees than other European countries. Asylum seekers are some of the most vulnerable people in the world and we could be doing more to protect them.”


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