North West Migrants Forum

Celebrate Refugees’ Welcome in Derry-Londonderry

Dancers, drummers, musicians, Cooks and dress makers from all different ethnic backgrounds are being called on to come forward and get involved in the biggest cultural interchange ever staged in the city.

Derry will play host to a celebration of culture and diversity, bringing together people from all different walks of life, to honour our differences and embrace them.

It’s also a time to mark the first anniversary of Derry establishing itself as a leading light in humanitarianism in taking in refugees.

It was in May of last year that 11 Syrian refugee families arrived in Derry hoping to make it their home, joining other refugees and migrants in the city from places as diverse as Pakistan, Egypt, the Congo, China, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Throughout 2016, around 400 Syrians arrived in Northern Ireland, with the province being heralded as leading the way on refugee resettlement in the UK.

To mark this, and to show appreciation to everyone who played a role in supporting the families who have come here, the North West Migrants Forum is inviting the people of the Derry and the North West to participate in a series of workshops that will culminate in the biggest cultural interchange in the city.

Participants will be asked to work together and prepare over the course of six weeks for a final event that will be held in the Foyle Arena on April 30, 2017.

It will be a great opportunity for anyone who wants to take part in any of the following events:

–       Syrian traditional music and dance,

–       A mash up of Irish, Syrian and African dance,

–       Traditional music focused on African drums,

–       Learn more about Irish and Ulster Scots music,

–       Get involved in dress making from a wide range of different cultures,

–       Participate in a mash up of Indian and Syrian dancing.

In the six weeks leading up to the event, two workshops will be run: one to teach a group of people about dance and music traditions from different parts of the world, and another to teach a group of people about different intercultural dress-making traditions.

Participation in these workshops is completely free and is being sought from different communities. If you are interested in taking part or facilitating at any of the workshops contact Orlando De Gregorio at or call 02871 362184 for more information.

The event on April 30, 2017, at Foyle Arena will run from 4pm until 8pm.

Tickets will cost £3 per person or £5 for a family. The event is being funded by the Big Lottery and the Executive Office.


Background information:

–       In February of last year the Syrian Centre for Policy Research estimated that 11.5{8bb81d539c84b64e16216d0f54ac8d77ee7aa431c1f608272f33f08deaf3838b} of Syria’s population had been killed or injured in the conflict. This amount to 470,000 deaths and 1.9 million people injured.

–       For comparison, 11.5{8bb81d539c84b64e16216d0f54ac8d77ee7aa431c1f608272f33f08deaf3838b} of Northern Ireland’s 1.86 million population is 213,900 – more than the population of Derry-Londonderry.

–       A report from the NI Assembly last year found that positive aspects of migration brings “economic growth, fills labour shortages, brings much needed skills, and enriches our society through cultural diversity”.

At the time of the last census in 2011, the migrant population of Northern Ireland – both from within and outside of the EU – made up less than 5{8bb81d539c84b64e16216d0f54ac8d77ee7aa431c1f608272f33f08deaf3838b} of the total population.

Yours Sincerely,

Lillian Seenoi

Project Co-ordinator, NWMF

NWMF press release Celebrate

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