Staff from Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC) joined communities from around the UK last weekend to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 (27 January).
Organised by Coventry City Council on Friday 26 January in Broadgate, people from across the city came together to remember the millions of people worldwide whose lives have been affected by genocide.
Holocaust survivor Lore Napier spoke about her journey to Britain as part of the Kindertransport and thanks to the people of Britain for taking her in. She said:
“I’m so grateful to this country for taking me in. If the English government wouldn’t have taken unaccompanied children like me in, I wouldn’t be here now.
“I think it is lovely of this wonderful city to put on an event like this and it is important we don’t forget what happened.”
Toni Soni, interim Centre Director at CRMC then spoke and added: “Victims of the holocaust should never be forgotten, be they Jewish, gypsies, gay and bisexual men and women, or opponents of the Nazi regime during the Second World War.
“We also look at sadness at the world today where genocide and ethnic cleansing still continues in large parts, resulting in the death of men, women and children while others flee their homes to seek sanctuary. Most end up in refugee camps in neighbouring countries. Others now living with us in Coventry – a city renowned for its peace and reconciliation – have had horrendous and dangerous journeys to arrive at a place of sanctuary.
“We provide support and assistance to support newly arrived communities fleeing such atrocities to settle and integrate into the wider community.
“The generosity and kindness of many ordinary citizens in helping and welcoming these people into Coventry should not be underestimated.”
Julia and Abdul; a teacher and lawyer from Kenya and Syria then bravely told their stories of leaving home due to conflict and persecution, and the sanctuary Coventry has offered them since arriving in the city. Both now work at CRMC supporting other newly arrived people to rebuild their lives in peace and with dignity.
Martin Reeves, Chief Executive of Coventry City Council and the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor Tony Skipper also spoke at the event, highlighting the diverse and vibrant communities the city has to offer and emphasising the parallel of today’s need for embracing refugees.
Our interim Centre Director’s speech can be found in full here.