UEA Refugee Week

UEA refugee week logo on a organge background


Refugee Week is the world’s largest arts and culture festival celebrating the contributions, resilience and creativity of refugees and people seeking sanctuary.

Whilst the national refugee week is held in June, this year UEA is joining universities across the UK to collaboratively organise events from the 1st-8th of March to coincide with when campuses are busiest.

The theme for national refugee week 2024 is “Our Home”; from the places we gather to our collective home, planet earth.Refugee week offers us the opportunity to reflect and consider what actions we can individually and collectively take to create a kinder, more compassionate world.

As we write this, the number of people who are forcibly displaced around the world has reached unprecedented heights and tragically, the unimaginable impacts of war, conflict and persecution are being felt by an ever increasing number of members of our university, local and global communities.

We look forward to joining with you as we collectively consider what we can do to make “Our Home” a more safe, welcoming and sustainable place for all.

Thoughts from Alliances of Understanding in partnership with University of Sanctuary’s Refugee Week

Haunted presents

As we observe Refugee Week and reflect on the enduring struggles of displaced peoples worldwide, it is essential to recognize the profound interconnection between the present plight of refugees and the historical legacy of displacement. The presence of refugees in our midst serves as a poignant reminder that our present reality is forever haunted by the ghosts of past injustices—the echoes of conflicts and persecutions that continue to reverberate across generations.

The experiences of present refugees are intricately linked to the narratives of those who came before them—the survivors of wars, genocides, and forced migrations whose stories have been etched into our collective histories. From the Holocaust to the Rwandan genocide, from the Partition of India to the displacement of Indigenous peoples, the spectre of forced displacement looms large over our collective consciousness, shaping the contours of our world and leaving an indelible mark on the fabric of human experience.

In recognizing the historical continuum of refugee experiences, we confront the enduring legacies of colonialism, imperialism, and systemic violence that continue to perpetuate cycles of displacement and dispossession. The struggles of present refugees are not isolated incidents but rather part of a broader tapestry of human suffering—a testament to the resilience and determination of those who refuse to be silenced or forgotten.

As we bear witness to the plight of refugees from Gaza and beyond, we are called upon to acknowledge our shared responsibility to confront the root causes of displacement and to address the structural inequalities that perpetuate human suffering. Our solidarity with refugees is not merely an act of charity but a moral imperative—an acknowledgment of our common humanity and a commitment to justice, dignity, and human rights for all.

In participating in Refugee Week and standing in solidarity with refugees worldwide, let us heed the lessons of history and reaffirm our commitment to building a more inclusive, compassionate, and equitable world—one where the voices of refugees are heard, their stories honoured, and their rights upheld. Only by confronting the ghosts of the past and our present can we hope to create a future where no one is forced to flee their homes in search of safety, security, and a place to belong.

Syed Haider

e: s.haider@uea.ac.uk


Below you will find the full programme for UEA Refugee Week 2024.


Friday 1 March, 5pm-7pm,
Thomas Paine Foyer and Lecture Theatre

Join us for the opening of the University of East Anglia Refugee Week including the launch of two exhibitions; Finding 'Home' in Education and Families Beyond Boundaries. Everybody is welcome to attend this opening celebratory festival which will include live music, inspirational talks by leaders within the sanctuary community and networking opportunities.​

Open to: UEA students, staff and the general public.

To book your free place, please click here.


4-31 March, 9am-5pm

The Enterprise Centre Foyer, University of East Anglia

Finding Home in Education is an art exhibition which explores the role of higher education in providing sanctuary following displacement. It has been developed by students and academics from across nine different UK universities and led by the UEA University of Sanctuary initiative alongside renowned artists Majid Adin and Dana Olarescu.

Open to: UEA students, staff and the general public

No need to prebook


4-31 March, 9am-5pm

The Enterprise Centre Foyer, University of East Anglia

Families Beyond Boundaries is a photography exhibition which explores both the impact of being divided from family and friends and the connections that remain despite being physically apart. The project was jointly led by Ukrainian academic Olga Sovenko (Honorary Lecturer, School of Art, Media and American Studies) and the UEA University of Sanctuary initiative.

Open to: UEA students, staff and the general public

No need to prebook


Tuesday 5 March, 12pm-1pm

Elizabeth Fry Building, Room 01.05

Chaired by Theresa Frey (EDU)

This lecture examines how the roles and identities changed in Ukrainian families in 2022-2024 due to the threats of war and forced displacements.

Olga Sovenko is a sociologist who joined the University of East Anglia in spring 2022 as an honoury lecturer in the School of Art, Media and American Studies. In February 2023, she was awarded a research fellowship through the British Academy. Olga's main research project is dedicated to exploring Ukrainian families' lives under the threat of war and other challenges. Olga is working with families who have been internally displaced alongside those who are seeking sanctuary outside of Ukraine.

Open to: UEA students, staff and the general public

No need to prebook


Wednesday 6 March, 12pm-2pm

The Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia

Local children with a background of forced displacement have been invited to attend a special art workshop led by artist Ian Brownlie and the Sainsbury Centre Learning Team. The children will be invited to join in fun creative activities taking place inside the gallery and the sculpture park.

Please note this is an invite only event


Thursday 7 March, 12pm-2pm

Norwich Millennium Library 'Advice Hub' desk, The Forum

Facilitated by Liz Ferguson (ARM), Sophie North (HSC), Madi Dutton (DEV), Helen Codling (ARM) and Peter Courridge (FPG)

Would you like to learn more about the work of UEA University of Sanctuary, applying for a sanctuary scholarship and how we can support you through the process? Then join us for an informal drop-in session where you can meet directly with the UEA University of Sanctuary team.

Open to: All sanctuary seekers interested in pursuing study in higher education

No need to prebook


Thursday 7 March, 12pm-1pm

The Zicer Building, Room 2.03, University of East Anglia

UNESCO Chair for Adult Literacy and Learning’s Education and Development Public Seminar

Theresa Frey, PhD Researcher, School of Education and Lifelong Learning

Chair: Dr Esther Priyadharshini, School of Education and Lifelong Learning

Respondent: Lauren Bouttell, PhD Researcher, School of Education and Lifelong Learning

This seminar explores the community and care of youth education justice activists in New York City, United States. The ethnography study contextualises historical and contemporary challenges of the School-to-Prison[Deportation] Nexus and focuses on the work of youth-led education justice actions to dismantle and re-imagine education in the largest school district in the United States.

Open to: UEA students, staff and the general public

No need to prebook


Friday 8 March, 11am-1.30pm

The Enterprise Centre, Room 1.06, University of East Anglia

Esmatullah Khyber, Postgraduate Researcher (DEV), Lauren Bouttell, Postgraduate Researcher (EDU), Emily Clark - GP & NIHR In-practice fellow, Mohammad Naeim Maleki, Postgraduate Researcher (EDU), Takeyuki Fukui, MSc Global Development Management student (DEV)

Chaired by Connie Hodgkinson Lahiff (LAW)

PGR UEA Migration Research Network will be leading a research forum which will showcase ongoing postgraduate research within UEA that intersects with themes of sanctuary and/ or migration.

The PGR Migration Research Network is a cross-departmental community for PGRs at UEA who are working on migration-related issues. The Network was recently formed in 2023 and aims to create a space for both communication and connection, as well as to develop an expanding knowledge hub and share information on relevant conferences and events.

For additional information, please email Connie Lahiff at c.hodgkinson-lahiff@uea.ac.uk.

Open to: UEA students and staff

No need to prebook

From Idea to Screen Workshop Workshop and Film Screening of 'Losing Us'

Friday 8 March, 1pm-3pm, University of East Anglia

‘Losing Us’ Director Teele Dunkley and Producer Lesley van Dijk will be running
a film skills workshop for UEA students studying on the Humanitarian Communication
module. The workshop will be followed by a screening of ‘Losing Us’, a critically
acclaimed short film about human trafficking, survival and family love.

Open to: UEA Students studying on the Humanitarian Communication module


This year, a number of universities from across the UK will also be holding their
Refugee Week events from 1-8 March. The hope is that this will increase the visibility,
reach and impact of these events, and strengthen the ties between our institutions.

Please find details of a selection of events taking place.

Mental Health and Wellbeing of Somali Refugees in Urban Neighbourhoods of London and Bristol

Wednesday 6 March, 4pm-5pm

In this session, we will present findings of a qualitative study that explores the role of urban neighbourhoods in the mental health and wellbeing of refugees, specifically focusing on Somali refugees in London and Bristol, UK. The presentation will foreground reflections from two Somali community representatives and advisory board members who supported the study. This event is organised by the Refugee Mental Health and Place Network and co-sponsored by the ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health at King's College London.

Open to: students, staff and the general public

To book your free place, please click ​here ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​

How can UK universities support Higher Education in Palestine?

Thursday 7 March, 6pm-7.30pm

Palestinians are one of the world’s longest-serving refugee populations (UNRWA, 2023), and the recent deterioration of conditions in Gaza and the West Bank has had a devastating effect on civilians, infrastructure and the education system. This session will include talks and a panel discussion exploring the challenges faced by the education sector in Palestine both currently and over the past few decades, and will discuss ways in which universities in the UK can provide meaningful support to Palestine’s students, educators and education system as a whole.

Open to: students, staff and the general public

No need to prebook, please follow this link on the day

“Migrant participation in urban sanctuary practices”. Discussion and Q&A

Friday 8 March, 12.30pm-1pm

Join Franca Roeschert, PhD student at the Centre for Communities and Social Justice, for this session. Explore key topics and engage in discussions that contribute to our understanding of social justice and refugee experiences.

Open to : students, staff and the general public

To book your free place, please click ​here ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​

To view the full programme of events taking place across the UK,
please click here.

If you have any queries about UEA Refugee Week, please contact Madi Dutton (university.of.sanctuary@uea.ac.uk).