As 2017 rapidly with each news bulletin enters a dystopian era that has been silently bubbling for some time, we see history repeating itself. Humans are compelled to the notion ‘it won’t happen to me’, and turn a blind eye. The fact is, something is happening, and the sooner we recognise that, unite and support each other, the sooner we can overcome whatever it is that is going on right now - 'cos this is madness!
Above all this, one of the big issues of our time is the crisis of forced migration and refugees. The causes behind forced migration are complex. People are forced to flee their countries for a variety of reasons. These include persecution and social injustice, the ravages of war and conflict, and the impact of climate change.
With the current American administration attempting to ‘ban’ people fleeing certain countries, and ‘Hard Brexit’ levying its approach to ‘control our borders’, it is now more important than ever to educate ourselves and to up-skill, to be able to support people in need.
A common approach to the integration of refugees is to educate those coming to the host country. This is important due to the necessary skills development such as language, however, something that is often overlooked is up-skilling the host community.
It is apparent that the current rhetoric dehumanising refugees seems to have led the public to lose its humanity. We need to stand up and combat this perception and enable people to support and welcome people as if they were in their shoes.
At LSBU, supporting refugees and migrants is paramount; we are a highly diverse organisation situated in a highly diverse area of London. We have postgrad courses for Refugee Studies and Education for Sustainability equipping students with the skills to become global citizens. Likewise, we have the newly established Global Challenges Institute, working to connect academic and industry to tackle today’s global challenges of which forced migration is top of the agenda.
As an education and research institute we are compelled to educate our local community on what they can do, individually and collectively, to welcome refugees. LSBU has recently started work on an EU-funded Europe for Citizens programme called PROMISE (Promoting Refugee Integration Support through youth Engagement). The PROMISE project aims to promote better acceptance of European decisions for refugees in host communities through awareness raising and discussion forums around key concerns. PROMISE Project is an EU-funded, Europe-wide project comprised of LSBU and universities in Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, and Lithuania.
The project will engage host communities in the participating EU member states and aims to develop the knowledge and understanding of the causes of the forced migration, to develop respect for refugees' experiences and for the knowledge and skills they bring, and to build skills in communicating ideas and views - in debates, advocacy, campaigning, activism and even public speaking. It is hoped that this will create a European youth network of people standing up for refugees.
So let’s stand up and speak!