20th June is World Refugee Day. The day is dedicated to raising awareness of the plight of refugees worldwide. The event is recognised in over 100 countries, and is marked by a series of global events led by artists and musicians to honour the courage of the millions of people forced to flee their homes in order to live in safety. Africa Refugee Day, initiated by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), is celebrated on the same day.
It is estimated that over 60 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes by events such as war, conflict or persecution. This figure translates to a staggering one in every 120 people on the planet being either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum.
The UNHCR’s online petition #WithRefugees is an attempt to send a clear message to governments that they must act with solidarity and shared responsibility to ensure that all refugees can live in safety.
For students interested in discovering more about the effects of the movement of populations, SOAS University of London offers two specialised postgraduate courses.
The MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies is run by the Department of Anthropology and Sociology and is designed for students who wish to know more about the transnational nature of the modern world and who want to understand cultural transformation from a global perspective.
The MSc in Migration, Mobility and Development is taught within the Department of Development Studies and is concerned with the political economy of migration from a historical perspective; trends in migration theories; and different approaches to the study of migration and displacement. It will appeal to students hoping to work for international agencies, NGOs, and humanitarian organisations.
The Centre of Migration and Diaspora Studies at SOAS aims to foster and promote a supportive research and teaching environment for scholars concerned with issues surrounding migration and diaspora, and draws on the skills and expertise of academics specialised in disciplines such as anthropology, development studies, history and politics. The Centre covers not only the traditional SOAS regions of Asia, the Middle East and Africa, but also issues of migration and diaspora in Europe and the Americas.