To mark World Refugee Day - and Refugee Week 2011 - Theresa May met people who have been given sanctuary in the UK after fleeing war and persecution in their home countries.
Dr Akong Tulku Rinpoche, a monk who founded the first Tibetan Buddhist Centre to be built in the West and Carlos Arredondo, a Chilean singer, songwriter and poet, were among refugees who had tea with the Home Secretary in central London today.
This was part of the Refugee Week Simple Acts campaign, which urges members of the public to choose an action such as learning to say hello in someone’s native language to promote better understanding.
‘It has been a privilege to meet these inspiring individuals and hear about the contribution they make to life in the UK. Refugees like those I have met today have played a vital part in shaping Britain in the last sixty years,’ said Mrs May.
This year represents a milestone in the global effort to support refugees, the 60th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention, which sets out the rights of refugees and states’ legal obligations.
Housing and healthcare
The UK continues to provide sanctuary to some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees.
More than 3,300 people have so far been safely resettled in this country through the Gateway Protection Programme, which began in 2002.
Every year it brings up to 750 particularly vulnerable refugees with no prospect of returning to their home country to the UK from refugee camps and urban areas around the world.
In their first year in the UK, the refugees receive the support they need to integrate into British life, including housing, healthcare and education.