North West Migrants Forum

North West Migrants Forum Chief Executive welcomes Little Amal to Derry

LITTLE Amal, the 12-foot puppet representing a young Syrian refugee, brought hundreds of people on to the streets of Derry on Monday.

Amal has become a global symbol of human rights, especially those of refugees. Since July 2021 she has travelled to 160 towns and cities in 16 countries and been welcomed by two million people on the street and by tens of millions online.

Her journeys are moments of art and hope that draw attention to the huge numbers of children fleeing war, violence and persecution, each with their own story. Her urgent message to the world is ‘Don’t forget about us’.

Since Amal started walking, she has raised €900,000 for The Amal Fund with Choose Love, providing urgently-needed support for refugee and displaced children all over the world.

On Monday Little Amal was greeted at Ebrington by a piper playing Danny Boy before starting to make her way over the Peace Bridge. She repeatedly stopped to greet and shake hands with well wishers, many of them young children.

In Guildhall Square she was met by a choir which sang Lean On Me and Amazing Grace before incoming Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council and Chief Executive of the North West Migrants Forum, Lilian Seenoi Barr (pictured with Amal above), gave her a big north west welcome.

Amal beside one of the Bogside murals.

“Amal’s journey is a celebration of migration and cultural diversity, one that tells the story of the contributions made by those fleeing war, persecution and natural disaster,” Mrs Barr told those gathered.

“Her journey as a ten-year-old girl represents the refugee story as one of hardship and resilience but also the potential for success, respect, hospitality and kindness.

“And when I look around me here today that is what I see – a community that has come out to say welcome and to show kindness and solidarity.



“It also gives me hope when I see the crowd that has gathered here today. And in Arabic that is what the name Amal means – hope.

Amal stopped on the rainbow crossing as she made her way towards Guildhall Square.

“We live in deeply uncertain times where, all over the world, people are having to leave their homes and their families under the threat of death, torture and imprisonment.

“In particular we think of those in Palestine who are living under daily bombardment. We think of them as they wait for a decision on a Gaza family scheme which would enable Palestinians in the UK to bring their loved ones to sanctuary until it is safe to return.

Cheers and chants went up as Amal took a Palestine flag in her hand at Free Derry Corner.

“As we stand here in Guildhall Square, for the majority of us it is hard to imagine losing everything, having everything you have ever known taken away from you.

“But for hundreds of people in our city and many thousands more across these islands, that is the harsh reality. Following perilous journeys by foot, by land, by boat or by plane, they have arrived here in this strange land where their language is not spoken, where their culture is not understood and where their food is not eaten.

“Thankfully here in this city and district they have been greeted with warmth and compassion. And today we extend that same warmth and welcome to Little Amal.

Amal, it is our pleasure to have you with us. And rest assured that wherever you go next and wherever you end up, we will not forget about you or the millions of children like you who are struggling to find their place in the world.”

A poignant moment on the Peace Bridge as Amal stared out over the Foyle.