It’s a very different Refugee Week this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ordinarily, the week is a vibrant national festival celebrating the contribution, resilience, and creativity of refugees.
In 2020, this is very much a digital celebration – a fact not lost on Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales:
“This has been a very different Refugee Week, having no opportunity for physically meeting one another has compounded so many new challenges facing our society.”
An on-going problem, acknowledges Bishop McAleenan, is the struggle refugees face either in camps, in transit or in detention centers:
“What has not changed is the seeming hopelessness of those trapped in overcrowded camps, held in detention centers, making dangerous journeys across the sea or living on our streets – their struggle is now harder than ever.
“I offer my prayers and wholehearted support for all the charities and volunteers who have remained working tirelessly during this period to ensure that refugees are never forgotten or abandoned.”
The theme of Refugee Week 2020 is ‘Imagine’. As the official site for the week says, “when things feel stuck; when the old ways of doing things are no longer working, that’s what we need to do.”
In the era of Covid-19, the call to imagine feels more important than ever.
Links and Resources
A number of organizations, including Catholic charities, have produced useful digital resources to mark the week.
Jesuit Refugee Service UK
JRS UK has a number of virtual events, activities, and exhibitions for Refugee Week, inspired by the theme ‘Imagine’. As part of this celebration, we’re invited to take part by engaging in some ‘Simple Acts’ that can be done at home. Simple Acts are everyday actions we can all do to stand with refugees and make new connections in our communities. JRS UK is inviting us to discover the experiences of our refugee friends and help us reimagine our shared future. It has put together its own selection of Simple Acts. Visit its website for more.
Refugee Tales is an organization that walks in solidarity with people who have been indefinitely detained. Rooted in the work of the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group, Refugee Tales shares the stories of people held in immigration detention and those who work with them.