Today is International Migrants Day 2019. In Glasgow and across the UK, groups are gathering to remember many who lost their lives this year.

The deaths of 39 people in a lorry in October shook us and brought a lot of buried memories back for many of our clients and members of our staff and volunteer team, including our CEO Sabir Zazai, who recently bravely shared his harrowing story of arriving in the UK in the back of a lorry.

Forty-nine people (that we know of) have died as a result of the France-UK border in 2019 alone, and well over 1000 deaths have been recorded in the Mediterranean Sea. This is devastating – migration is a fact of life, and should not be a death sentence. Safe and legal routes to protection are urgently needed.

Our friends at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) put it best when they said: “People have always moved. Down the road. To the next town. And yes, sometimes people move to another country. Sometimes we move because we choose to, and sometimes we move because we have no other choice.””

People move. Let’s celebrate that.


Today, some of our staff and volunteers have completed the following statement:

“On International Migrants Day, I think of…”

“…the tireless work of our staff and volunteers and of organisations across the sector this year in working to combat destitution and lock-change evictions, and in supporting those who have been made destitute by Home Office policy. And I think of all of our clients, who are not statistics but individual human beings with hopes and dreams, up against an inhumane system.”

“…a young girl in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Athens, belting out “This is my fight song, take back my life song, prove ‘em all right song” to cheering crowds at a kids’ talent show.”

“…my close family and friends who have migrated to the UK, and worry about what might happen to them as a result of growing hostility towards people who have made their homes here.”

“…members of our LGBT community here in Scotland who are migrants, who through shared experiences and a shared compassion have come together to make our community a more vibrant and welcoming place.”

“…all the kids at our Christmas party, putting aside their difficulties and playing, celebrating and laughing together.”

“…my grandfather, who came here to study from Ghana, met a girl, and the rest is history…he also dedicated his life since to the NHS and raised two sons who have done the same.”

“…my grandparents who left post partition India to settle in Glasgow in the 1950s and 1960s to contribute, alongside their families, to the business and education sector in the UK”.

“…my Jewish maternal family, who were forced to leave Inquisition Spain and migrated to the Ottoman Empire in the 15th Century. My mother tells the story best in the community language, Ladino (Judaeo-Spanish).


Chris Afuakwah
Author: Chris Afuakwah