Every week is refugee week...

Zrinka Bralo
16 June 2008

My name is Zrinka Bralo, and I am Executive Director of Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum in London. Yesterday, I spent a day at the South Bank with many of my colleagues and fellow Londoners at the launch of Refugee Week 2008.

I often say that I have refugee week every week, not only because a long time ago I was a refugee, but also because I do support work with refugees on a daily basis. However, this week is special because The United Nations General Assembly designated 20 June as World Refugee Day to recognize and celebrate the contribution of refugees throughout the world. And that is what we did on Sunday.

We stopped and looked at the positive, at the contribution that newcomers make, not only economically but as inspirational human beings who survived against all odds and are now making all our lives richer.

Sadly, while we were celebrating in London, a special prison service riot unit known as the Tornado Team was sent into immigration detention centre Campsfield House in Oxfordshire. The centre houses people who are about to be deported. Many migrants are kept in there for undefined periods of time with no judicial oversight. Sometimes out of desperation they try to hurt themselves to avoid being sent back, sometimes they go on hunger strikes and sometimes they protest.

Tomorrow, for one day only Trafalgar Square will be transformed into a refugee camp to highlight the plight of people displaced from war-torn Darfur. United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) will recreate refugee camp life in around 20 capitals around the world.

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