To mark Refugee Week, Islamic Relief set up an Afghan 'Refugee Camp' in Birmingham City Centre. The camp was part of "Celebrating Sanctuary 2002", a series of events from 21st to the 23rd June 2002, celebrating the positive contribution of refugees in Britain.
Touring the Islamic Relief refugee tents
Clare Short, MP and Minister for International Development, and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Mahmood Hussain, officiallylaunched the event on Saturday 21st June. Clare Short shared her own family history of immigration, explaining how her great-great-grandfather had come to England from Ireland to escape famine. "I am the child of refugees who came to Birmingham to get a better life," she said.
Clare Short and the Lord Mayor then toured the Islamic Relief refugee tents. Ms Short commented that it was a "really great opportunity" for people to gather an idea of what it was like to be a refugee. Stopping at the information stand to take refreshments she offered encouragement to Islamic Relief staff. "Keep up the good work, you're doing a wonderful job.
"Visitors to the refugee tents were able to see the cramped conditions in the tents and examine ration packs, and medical equipment in order to gain some insight into the lives of over 35 million refugees and displaced people around the world. Local schoolchildren were particularly fascinated by the tents and the photographs of refugee children on display. Islamic Relief staff spoke to visitors about their experiences of working with refugees in Chechnya, Bosnia, and Afghanistan.
Around 3,000 people visited Centenary Square for the 'Celebrating Sanctuary' events which included ethnic music, multicultural art exhibitions, and displays by refugee voluntary organisations.