World Refugee Day in Parliament
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25 June, 2018

In an event to mark World Refugee Day on 20 June, refugees’ contribution to the recovery of their countries of origin was acknowledged in a parliamentary committee room.

One hundred people, many of whom were refugees themselves, gathered to mark the launch by Initiatives of Change of a new training course entitled Refugees as Re-Builders.

Introducing the event, Lib Dem MP Tom Brake, commented that when horrifying images of fleeing refugees are in the forefront of our minds, it was good to focus on their potential to contribute.

Dr Muna Ismail, the course manager, said that the course focused on equipping refugees with knowledge and skills that they may not access through studies or work experience. These include facilitating dialogue in conflicting communities, fostering ethical leadership practices to counter corruption and nepotism, and ways of promoting sustainable livelihoods, when local economies have collapsed.

Two refugees who have made outstanding contributions to the recovery of their countries of origin received awards.

A new short video by one of them, The Health of a Nation, Libya was screened. It featured the work of Nagi Barakat who sought refuge in Britain 30 years ago. He completed his medical training here, and has been consultant paediatric neurologist in the NHS for the last 17 years. He was made Minister of Health in Libya immediately after the fall of President Gaddafi, but was only able to perform that role for a year. So he returned to Britain and has since been taking teams of medical doctors from Britain and other countries to train doctors in Libya.

The other person to receive an award was Dr Teame Mebrahtu of Bristol University’s Graduate School for Education. As a leading academic and a Director of the Teacher Training Institute in Asmara, Eritrea, he fled to Britain in the 1970s when his life was under threat from the Ethiopian regime. He subsequently made frequent clandestine visits to occupied Eritrean to train teachers. Then in the 1990s, after Eritrean independence, he made a significant contribution to re-establishing the education system in the country, and enabling Eritrean teachers to receive training in Britis

Following these two experienced ‘re-builders’ came three aspiring ‘re-builders’, alumni of the Refugees as Re-Builders course. Ismail Moussa, another Eritrean who is just completing a degree in aircraft engineering at Kingston University, Joseph Ochieno, a prominent Ugandan human rights campaigner, and Shukri Adan, a law-graduate, life-coach and mother of three. They shared their experiences of the course and their vision of how they hope to contribute to their countries of origin.

Call for applications for the new September 2018 foundation course


Photo gallery – Graduation Ceremony for Refugees as Re-builders course>>

Photo credit: Roger Way and Yee-Liu Williams

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