Students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have visited a university in Cyprus to discuss new ways of assisting refugees and asylum seekers.
The group of eight #DMUSquareMile volunteers travelled to Cyprus on a #DMUglobal trip and have taken part in a packed itinerary of activities on the island.
The week culminated with a seminar at Frederick University, a partner institution in the #JoinTogether campaign. #JoinTogether is a United Nations initiative to support refugees worldwide, with 68 universities now signed up as partners.
DMU has been asked by the UN to take a lead in engaging the global higher education sector in the campaign and this trip was designed to give students an international perspective on issues related to migration.
During the event in Nicosia, students from DMU and Frederick University were given a presentation by Emilia Strovolidou from the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), who spoke about the history of refugees in Cyprus and highlighted the scale of the refugee crisis around the world.
She suggested ways that refugees and asylum seekers could be better protected and answered questions from students about the perception of migrants and how they can be helped into employment.
“We should not think about refugees as a burden or a threat but as having skills, talents and dreams”, she urged.
The Vice-President of Frederick University, Natassa Frederickou, provided DMU students with more information about the university, which is based in the cities of Nicosia and Limassol. She then introduced the day’s main session, where students from both institutions shared their learnings and came up with new ideas for helping migrants.
Suggestions from students included legal advice from law students, community events, utilising universities’ vast expertise and humanising migrants by telling their stories more effectively.
To mark the European Union’s Anti-Trafficking Day, students were shown an eye-opening documentary about the plight of young women trafficked from Eastern Europe to work in the sex industry in other countries, titled ‘The Price of Sex’.
Following the film, Cyprus’ Minister of Labour Zeta Emilianidou addressed the audience to emphasise the importance of tackling human-trafficking.
The event was closed by DMU’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Andy Collop, who summed up the experience of the students in Cyprus and underlined DMU’s commitment to the #JoinTogether campaign moving forward.
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MBA student Siddhaarth Sivasamy, from India, said that the event has inspired him to take action when he returns to Leicester.
He said: “It was a good experience. It was really shocking to hear about the human trafficking and it really shocked me. I’m a committee for the Enactus Society at DMU and I’m planning to do something where we can do something for the community when I get back to the UK.
“I’m very happy I’ve been part of this trip. I’ve enjoyed it and wish I could stay here.”
This event came at the end of a week where DMU students have visited a refugee reception centre and met with government officials from Cyprus’ ministry of internal affairs and ministry of foreign affairs. Health Studies student Fatima Mohammed believes that this discussion rounded off the visit to Cyprus perfectly.
She said: “This event perfectly summarised everything we’ve done this week. It was nice to know that each place that we went to this week, including today, everyone knows their weaknesses. Everything flowed throughout the week.
“I’ve learned to be more humble, take each day as it comes and be more appreciative.”
Posted on Thursday 18th October 2018