Press release

Home Secretary meets remarkable refugees to celebrate world refugee day

Theresa May marked World Refugee Day by meeting people given sanctuary in the UK after fleeing war and persecution in their home countries.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Home Secretary Theresa May has today marked World Refugee Day by meeting and hearing about the remarkable lives of five people given sanctuary in the UK after fleeing war and persecution in their home countries

To mark the start of Refugee Week, which begins today (20 June), the Home Secretary invited the refugees to have tea with her at the Home Office in central London.

Theresa May said: ‘The UK has a proud and enduring tradition of helping those in genuine need of our protection and giving them support to build new lives in this country.

‘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.’

Anniversary of Refugee Convention

The refugees who met the Home Secretary included 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.

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.

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 (GPP), 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.

Notes to editors

  1. The Gateway Protection Programme was established in 2002 and the first refugees arrived in the UK under the scheme in 2004. The programme is run by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Refugee Week, which this year runs from June 20 to June 26, is a UK-wide programme of events celebrating the contribution of refugees to the UK.

The Simple Acts campaign, part of the Refugee Week celebrations, urges members of the public to undertake one simple task, such as taking tea with a refugee or learning to say hello in their native language, to promote better understanding.

4. A video featuring interviews with refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo who have been resettled in Norwich has been uploaded to Youtube on a creative common license, which means it can be edited and reused. You can find the video here:

This video can also be embedded in your website by clicking the share/embed button on the video page.

  1. High resolution photos of the home secretary’s meeting can be found on the Home Office flickr channel:

6. For more information, including profiles and photographs of the refugees who met the Home Secretary, ring Ben Biddulph at the Home Office Press Office on 020 7035 3857 or the newsdesk on 020 7035 3535.

Published 20 June 2011