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Mayor funds conference to help inform public on refugee issue

05 November 2015

A half-day conference aimed at providing information and awareness about local initiatives relating to the refugee crisis is being held in the city later this month.

Entitled, ‘From Syria to Sanctuary Here?’ the conference is scheduled to take place on Friday 27th November from 9.20am – 2.00pm in the Foyle Arena Leisure Centre, Derry~Londonderry.

Encouraging the public to attend, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Elisha McCallion said the conference was timely as the refugee crisis across Europe and the conflict in Syria, continue to make headline news and the arrival of a small number of refugees into Northern Ireland is imminent.

“There are a lot of rumours, myths and misunderstandings about refugees potentially coming here – and there is also a lot of goodwill from local people who want to know how to help.  As part of the UK Government scheme, a limited number of refugees will be resettled across the North with some of them very possibly being placed within the Derry City and Strabane Council area. This conference will give the public the chance to explore perspectives on the migration crisis internationally and locally with a view to local people being in a more informed position if and when refugees from Syria arrive in our local area.

“I have been very proactive through the Mayoral Civic Action Forum and the  Mayoral Emergency Refugee Fund, in raising awareness of the issues around the refugee crisis and inviting the public to do their part to assist those in need. This conference is another tool that will help inform and educate people on the current situation and how we can be adequately prepared and ready to assist when they arrive,” she said.

Sue Divin, Community Relations Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council, who is co-ordinating the conference, explained that a key part of the programme will be to allow participants to engage in a way that is related to their interests. “This might be to have conversations and ask questions about existing local Ethnic Diversity and views on welcoming refugees here or exploring legal rights based, humanitarian based or strategic or policy responses to the current crisis,” she added.

Booking in advance is essential and participants are advised that they can pick a specific workshop at the time of booking or if you prefer you can choose on the day (subject to remaining availability). To register contact  [email protected] or phone 02871253253 (ext 8225).

The conference is free and is open to the public, community and voluntary sector groups and students/youth aged 16+.    People need to provide their name, email and mobile (if they have one) and any special dietary or other requirements at the time of booking.  Light lunch will be provided. 

The conference is part of the Mayor, Councillor Elisha McCallion’s initiative, on Civic Action for Refugees.  It is funded under Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Good Relations strategy (CRU, OFMDFM).