On 2nd February 2017 University of Warwick pioneered an important event: The Journey to Protection and the University Experience for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, which was attended by staff, students and local community groups. Introduced by Dr Vicki Squire (BREM network, Warwick) and Craig Muir (City of Sanctuary, Coventry), the event provided a unique opportunity not only to develop a legal and political understanding of the issues refugees and asylum seekers face, but also to hear first-hand what this means in personal terms.
Jointly presented by Anne Bathily (former Senior Policy Officer for the European Council Refugees and Exiles and currently a consultant for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and Dawit Friew (a refugee currently living and studying in Norway), the audience had a moving encounter with the lived experience of seeking sanctuary through Anne and Dawit’s dialogue about what it means to flee persecution.
The event also facilitated direct dialogue between the audience and Dawit about the difficulties of entering university as a refugee. Attendees of this event expressed how powerful it was, leading to various suggestions for ways to contribute to further activities within the university and beyond. University of Warwick held this event as a reflection of its commitment to becoming a University of Sanctuary grounded in a culture of welcome to asylum seekers and refugees.