Hi, I’m Emma, a human rights and refugees intern at Studenteer this month. I’m writing to give you some information about the Syrian refugee crisis and provide some suggestions for how you can help refugees.
During the Arab Spring in 2011, peaceful protests in Syria became violent due to Syrian government repression against protesting civilians. Following the outbreak of violence, the Syrian Civil War started on 15 March 2011. Over the past 10 years there have been hundreds of thousands of fatalities. Many Syrians have been forced to leave the country and Syrian refugees form the world’s largest refugee group. Thereare 6.6 million Syrian refugees outside Syria and 6.2 million displaced people within Syria.
Most Syrian refugees are in Turkey (3.6 million), there are also hundreds of thousands in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Syrian refugees require support and access to food, shelter, water, healthcare and education.
The UK made a pledge to resettle 20,000 Syrians by 2020 through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.The Scheme stopped from March to November 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and started up again in December 2020. The latest figures from the UK Government confirm that 20,319 refugees have been resettled in the UK by March 2021 and half of the total were refugee children. Syrians that arrive in the UK require a high level of support with transitioning into life in a new country, for example, help with adapting to a new culture, education system and employment opportunities.
How you can help refugees:
Become a Studenteer
Studenteer is looking for students and recent graduates to sign up as ‘studenteers’ for internships with local charities. In May, we have been partnering with refugee and human rights charities to set up internships with Studenteer. For example, we have set up future projects with the Migrant Empowerment Group and Refugee Community Kitchen. If you are interested in gaining new skills and building your CV, sign up on our website to volunteer with one of our charity partners and make a difference to someone’s life.
Support Syrian-owned businesses
Imad Alarnab is a Syrian chef who arrived as a refugee in the UK in 2015 with only £12 in his possession. In Syria, Imad had owned three restaurants and various juice bars and coffee shops, all the businesses were destroyed by bombing in 2012. Imad opened a new restaurant in central London in May 2021, Imad’s Syrian Kitchen. If you live in London or are planning on visiting later this year, book a table at Imad’s Syrian Kitchen to support a great cause.
Join the Walk with Amal – celebrating refugee stories
If you watched the Glastonbury Live Stream on 22 May, you may have spotted the 3.5 metre puppet of Little Amal at Glastonbury Farm. Little Amal was at Glastonbury Festival to promote ‘The Walk’ – an internationalarts festival running from July to November 2021 that involves Little Amal walking 8,000 kilometres from the Syrian-Turkey border to the UK to raise awareness of the refugee crisis.
Along the route, communities will welcome Little Amal with cultural events. Little Amal is representing refugee children who travel across Europe in search of a safer life. She will travel through 8 countries fundraising for refugees and sharing their stories. The Walk will involve music, photography, art installations, dance and theatre performances and will also be livestreamed. If you would like to participate in one of the events or donate to the Walk, visit their website at this link.
One of the biggest obstacles for refugees arriving in the UK is learning English. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn a new language and any form of support and encouragement can go a long way. The organisation RefuNet partners refugees with volunteers and qualified English teachers to provide flexible online English classes. A commitment of one hour a week for three months is required from volunteers. Volunteers can sign upwithout teaching experience for conversation sessions. If you are interested in teaching English RefuNet’s website can be found here.
Join a campaign and take action
The UK Government announced in April 2021 that they will be making changes to the UK’s immigration and asylum policies. The proposed plans do not offer safe routes for refugees to reach the UK and will restrict the rights of people claiming asylum. For example, people entering the UK without permission will be punished without accounting for their rights of protection.
To campaign against these measures, you can write to your local MP explaining why safe routes for child refugees are essential. The charity Safe Passage have an email template here.
By Emma Howard for Studenteer
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