World Refugee Day
Like all world awareness days, the central idea behind World Refugee Day, happening this year on June 20th, is to raise awareness about the global refugee crisis and highlight our responsibility to support the thousands of families currently applying for or living under refugee status around the world.
For those of us who get to wake up every day in the homes we’ve made for ourselves and read the morning news, our primary understanding of refugees is based on headlines about harrowing sea crossings and illegal entry into countries that then try to push them further afield - or into crowded camps. We wonder “what to do about the crisis.”
The fact is, nobody chooses a refugee’s journey lightly. Families fleeing conflict in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere choose to leave their homes with little more than they can carry because the unknown horizon may offer some safety that their homes cannot.
We wonder “what to do about the crisis.”
Lambeth’s own Talya Tibbon, a documentary filmmaker, followed and filmed one family’s experience in her award-winning 2018 documentary Sky & Ground. The film joins the Nabi family as they decide to leave their home in Aleppo, Syria with their sights set on Berlin, reunion with extended family, and hopefully... safety.
Tibbon’s career highlights a rainbow of characters, from Wall Street tycoons to ice-swimmers. She has interviewed and documented sex workers, financial advisors, hackers and politicians who have changed the world. Her “eye-level” way of documenting the Nabi family’s journey provides a visceral glimpse into the nerve-wracking experience millions of refugees go through.
For many like the Nabi clan, the journey does not end when refugee status is awarded. Children want to go back to school, parents need to find gainful employment, some are fighting with health concerns, others are dealing with language barriers. Nations accepting refugee claims can provide a war-free daily life, but won’t always provide peace and comfort. In South London, community organisations and charity groups have come together to ensure refugee families are welcomed with open arms, safe spaces, and helping hands.
Since 2017, Lambeth Council has partnered with local organisations like Herne Hill Welcomes Refugees and Migrants Organise to welcome and house over 20 refugee families. They were allocated housing and assistance from a network of community members, ensuring the simplest possible integration into life in London. In 2018 Lambeth Council was internationally recognised and awarded a Community Sponsorship Award for its efforts.
Yes, a spare pair of socks or outgrown winter coat goes a long way, but a few hours of your time helping to organize a welcome committee or food drive can go the extra mile to make a family feel welcome.