Public invite to Mayor’s Refugee Conference

The Mayor of Derry and Strabane Councillor Elisha McCallion speaking at a recent solidarity vigil held in Guildhall Square supporting refugees fleeing conflict.  DERR3615GS04

The Mayor of Derry and Strabane Councillor Elisha McCallion speaking at a recent solidarity vigil held in Guildhall Square supporting refugees fleeing conflict. DERR3615GS04

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Mayor of Derry & Strabane Elisha McCallion has issued an open invite to local people to a conference focusing on the local response to the refugee crisis.

The Mayor has organised the half-day event to provide information and awareness about local initiatives to help ease the plight of the hundreds of thousands of people forced to abandon their home countries due to war or extreme poverty.

A section of the crowd who gathered in the Guildhall Square recently in support of a call for government action and relief in the refugee crisis.  DERR3615GS042.

A section of the crowd who gathered in the Guildhall Square recently in support of a call for government action and relief in the refugee crisis. DERR3615GS042.

Entitled, ‘From Syria to Sanctuary Here?’ the conference is scheduled to take place on Friday 27th November from 9.20am to 2pm at the Foyle Arena Leisure Centre in the Waterside.

Encouraging the public to attend, Mayor McCallion said the conference was timely as the arrival of a small number of refugees into the north was now imminent.

She said: “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.

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.

Mayor Elisha McCallion

“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.”

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.

Mayor McCallion added: “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, said 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 they can choose on the day (subject to remaining availability).

To register contact Niamh.scullion@derrystrabane.com or phone 02871253253 (ext 8225).

The conference is free and is open to the public, community and voluntary sector groups and students and young people aged 16 and over.

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 as a light lunch will be provided.