Refugees from across the world unite to launch Refugee Week Scotland 2013

A group of young dancers from a Palestinian refugee camp met with refugees now living in Scotland to celebrate the launch of Refugee Week Scotland today.

 The Lajee Dance group, who live in the overcrowded and insecure Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, performed a traditional Palestinian dance while refugees and local Scots taking part in Here We Stay, a music and spoken word performance piece co-produced by Scottish Refugee Council and the Citizen’s Theatre, performed their title track.

 The groups are just two of the many highlights of Refugee Week Scotland. The arts and cultural festival, which features more than 100 events across the country, celebrates refugees’ contribution to Scottish culture.

 Many of the young Palestinian dancers have experienced persecution, while refugees from Here We Stay have fled violence and threats to their lives in their home countries.

 But the mood today was joyful, as the groups came together to celebrate Scotland’s rich and colourful heritage, the theme of Refugee Week Scotland 2013.

 Suzi Simpson, Arts and Cultural Development Officer for Scottish Refugee Council, which co-ordinates Refugee Week Scotland, said: “It is a real privilege to be part of this unique and exciting festival. This event underlines so much of what makes it special - not only the talent on show, but the powerful and moving stories of so many people involved in Refugee Week Scotland.

 “We have performers from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, Palestine, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and right here in Glasgow and most places in between. And though they all bring their own diverse heritage, there is so much common ground.

 We’re really excited about our Refugee Week Scotland programme this year - we believe it really is a festival for everyone.”

 Salah Alajarma, Director of the Lajee Centre, said: “We are delighted to be in Scotland for Refugee Week and to be performing for Scottish audiences. The founders of the centre wanted to ensure children of Aida refugee camp have greater opportunities than they had themselves growing up in a life under military occupation and daily persecution.

 “We believe in building a brighter future for all Palestinians and refugees in Scotland by creating awareness through sharing our traditional dance, culture and life with you during our tour around your country." 

 Later today Refugee Week will get into full swing, with the Refugee Week Opening Concert featuring three artists nominated for the SAY Music Awards, Malcolm Middleton, Karine Polwart and Admiral Fallow. 


 Lajee Dance will perform across Scotland during Refugee Week Scotland:

Glasgow        Sun 16 June       Partick Burgh Halls        12pm

Edinburgh     Tue 18 June       Old St. Paul’s Church      7pm

Aberdeen      Thur 20 June     Queens Cross Church     7pm

Dundee         Fri 21 June        Dundee West Church       7pm

Perth             Sat 22 June       Solas Festival                  12pm 

For more info see:

 Here We Stay – Wed 19, Thurs 20 June, Tron Theatre Glasgow, 7.45pm

For more info see:

 To see the full programme of events go to or for more information or to set up interviews contact Karin Goodwin or Pauline Diamond, Scottish Refugee Council Media Officers on 0141 223 7927/07850 930418

 Notes to editors

  1. Refugee Week Scotland is coordinated by Scottish Refugee Council and runs from June 17 – 23 June at venues across Scotland. For more details see
  2. The theme for this year’s Refugee Week is Heritage, exploring what communities have saved from the past and how they take that heritage forward to shape our present as well as our futures in Scotland today.
  3. The purpose of Refugee Week is to deliver positive educational messages that counter fear, ignorance and negative stereotypes of refugees, through arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and promote understanding about the reasons why people seek sanctuary.
  4. The UN World Refugee Day is held each year on June 20. This event honours the courage and strength of the women, men and children forced to flee their homelands under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.
  5. Refugee Week was first held in 1998, and was created in response to the increasingly negative perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers held by the general public in Britain. It remains the only UK-wide event that promotes the importance of sanctuary and the benefits it can bring to both refugees and host communities.
  6. Scottish Refugee Council is launching a fundraising appeal as part of Refugee Week Scotland. Help us make basic rights a reality for refugees by supporting our essential asylum services. Text RFGE34 followed by the amount to 70070. Follow us on Twitter: Become a fan on Facebook:
  7. Lajee Dance is made up of a group of dancers aged 16-22 from the Aida refugee camp, Palestine.
  8. Here we Stay is a performance of music and spoken word by refugees and local Scots, exploring stories of migration and belonging. It is a Scottish Refugee Council and
  9. Other highlights in the week include:


British Red Cross Comedy Night

An evening of first class comedy brought to you by the world’s largest humanitarian organisation. Award-winning Susan Calman is the host. She is joined by Dave Fulton, who busts the myth that Americans don’t have a sense of irony, alongside Canadian Tom Stade, who will thrill you with his charm and storytelling.

Fri 21 June, 8.15pm

Tron Theatre, 63 Trongate, Glasgow, G1 5HB, £16 (£12)

Box office: 0141 552 4267/

 Theatre and Performance:

Some Other Mother

High up in a Glasgow tower block, ten-year-old Star and her mother await the outcome of their claim for asylum. As Mama’s mind fragments under the pressure of their unknown future, Star constructs a poetic and fantastical world of her own.

Scottish tour runs Thurs 6 – 27 June

See for full listings


Fact v Fiction: an exploration of Scotland’s refugees with author Karen Campbell

Explore the reality behind Karen Campbell’s novel This is Where I Am, about Abdi and his daughter settling into Glasgow. Karen will be in conversation with panellists from Scottish Refugee Council and reading from her new book.

Thurs, 20 June, 6pm

Mitchell Library, North Street, Glasgow, G3 7DN

FREE but places are limited.


The Man Who Fell to Earth

Glasgow Film’s POP UP programmers present this cult film directed by Nicolas Roeg, which features David Bowie as an extra-terrestrial seeking refuge on Earth. In an attempt to save his home planet from a fatal drought, Thomas Newton (Bowie) channels his advanced technology and intellect onto society. 

Fri 21 June, 7.30pm (followed by after-party)

Garnethill Multicultural Centre

21 Rose Street, Glasgow, G3 6RE


Box Office:


The Arches Café Bar Take-over – Taste the World with the International Women’s Group

Women from the International Women’s Group have been working with Arches’ chef, Robbie McGuiness, to come up with a menu of culinary delights inspired by recipes from their home countries of Palestine, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Sudan.

Mon 17-Sat 22 June, from 5pm

The Arches, 253 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G2 8DL:

 Visual Art:

Open Aye for Natural Scotland

Photography by young refugees offers a fresh perspective on life in Scotland. Inspired by nature and collected on outdoor adventures, this uplifting exhibition celebrates life’s simple pleasures.

18 May – 31 August

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum Community Space, Argyle Street, Glasgow FREE