Hull celebrated as a city that welcomes refugees

Hull will be named a City of Sanctuary this month with a celebration to honour the city’s proud history of providing a warm and friendly welcome to those fleeing persecution. The ceremony will take place in Hull Minster on Tuesday 20 June when people unite to celebrate World Refugee Day and will be followed by a programme of events that include world music event Gig in the Gardens, a live performance at The Adelphi and a Hull Independent Cinema screening.

Hosting the celebration is a particularly special moment for the city, as 2017 will be the first year that the UK celebration of World Refugee Day has been held outside of London. The declaration will be made by Salmen, a refugee in Hull, and will be received on behalf of local citizens by Hull’s Lord Mayor.

Salmen said: “The people of Hull have made my family and I feel safe and secure. I am proud to make the declaration that Hull is a City of Sanctuary. I would like to thank Hull and the UK for its proud tradition of offering sanctuary to people fleeing persecution around the World.

Key speakers at the ceremony include Baroness D’Souza, former Lord Speaker of the House of Lords, Sabir Zazai, Chair of City of Sanctuary, Nahro Zagros, who found sactuary in Hull and is now Vice President of Soran University and Hull 2017’s own Rosie Millard.

Exhibitions will be on show throughout the event featuring work by Hull group Knitters for Peace along with Rock Against Racism posters going back to 1970s and photographs from past Hull Refugee Week events.

Steve Ibbetson, Chair of Hull City of Sanctuary, said: “It is a real honour for the city of Hull to hold the UK celebration of World Refugee Day for the first time outside of London, recognising both our status as UK City of Culture in 2017 and the welcome given by the city to refugees especially over the last two decades.

The positive contribution refugees have made to the city cannot be overstated. The vibrancy that increased diversity has brought to the city has contributed greatly to our current high profile.”

World Refugee Day has been recognised since the 50th anniversary of the signing of the UN Convention relating to refugees and the day calls for the rebuilding of shattered lives with peace and dignity.

This year’s celebration will form part of Hull Refugee Week, with the star of the show being the world music festival Gig in the Gardens taking place on Saturday June 17 in Queens Gardens.

The gig, a colourful celebration of British diversity, will see Rafiki Jazz – made up of musicians spanning four continents – take to the stage. Also performing are the riotous 9-piece K.O.G & The Zongo Brigade from Ghana via Sheffield, African fusion band Hekima & The Bongo Flava from Tanzania via Hull and Hull’s very own Bud Sugar.

Martin Green, Director of Hull 2017, said: “Refugee Week is a fantastic opportunity for Hull to celebrate its proud record of being a place offering both sanctuary and opportunity to refugees.

“Gig in the Gardens kicks off a brilliant week-long celebration of unity and British diversity with a number of different and exciting events going on.

Gig in the Gardens is free and unticketed, starting from 11am and running throughout the day. It is part-funded by Hull 2017’s Creative Communities Programme.