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Thought for the Week: A Refugee

“Thou shalt neither vex a stranger nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” - Exodus, Chapter 22 verse 21.

As really unpleasant people attack the Royal National Lifeboat Institution for rescuing refugees who might otherwise drown crossing the English Channel in small unseaworthy boats (saving people at sea is their job!), and as the Home Office continues to be nasty and vindictive to those exercising their right to seek refuge under international law, let’s welcome the action of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in publishing The Refugee Dictionary.

Published to mark the 70th Anniversary of the signing of the Refugee Convention, The Refugee Dictionary is a special volume which only defines one word: ‘Refugee’, but in hundreds of unique and personal ways.

It contains over 1,000 definitions, each celebrating the lives of displaced people and showing that refugees are never defined by just one word, but are people, all with their own stories of survival, hope and new beginnings.

Authors include the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster; Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis; the Chair of the Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board; and The Rev Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields and husband of our local Bishop Jo Bailey-Wells.

And here’s one of those definitions, which I wrote: “A refugee is my father, who arrived in England in 1921 not speaking a word of English, and ended up as M&S’ chief food technologist, revolutionising the British food production industry.”

Philip Goldenberg, member of the Jewish faith

The Refugee Dictionary can be downloaded free here

Date: Monday 2nd August 2021


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