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Theresa May hosts refugee tea party

20 June, 2011: London - Home Secretary Theresa May will this afternoon receive refugees for tea at the Home Office to celebrate World Refugee Day and the start of Refugee Week (20-26 June). During Refugee Week this year people up and down the country will be celebrating 60 years of contributions refugees have made to British society, as 2011 is the 60th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention created to save the lives of people being persecuted in their own countries. 

Along with UNHCR’s Representative to the UK Roland Schilling, the Home Secretary has invited refugees who have each made significant contributions to life in the UKsince they sought sanctuary in the UK.  Dr Akong Tulku Rinpoche is a Tibetan Buddhist who was forced to flee his home country in1959. He has since established the first Tibetan Buddhist Centre in the West, in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. Classical musician Téa Hodzic was born in Bosniabut fled during the 1990s conflict. She has rebuilt her career in the UKand has been selected to sing at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. Other refugees attending the tea party include a Congolese school girl Gervelie Mambsand a Chilean writer Carlos Arrendondo.

The Home Secretary’s tea party is part of the Simple Acts ( www.refugeeweek.org.uk/simple-acts/ ) campaign which is about inspiring individuals to use small, everyday actions to change perceptions of refugees.  

Roland Schilling, UNHCR Representative to the UK, said: 'In a world still encountering conflict and human rights violations, the 1951 Refugee Convention is one of few effective tools that can protect, restore dignity and provide a new home for millions of people. A pledge made by states to save the lives of many, the Convention is as essential today as it was 60 years ago.'

For further information please contact:

Laura Padoan, UNHCR on 07814 083414