Geography students host seminar on the refugee crisis

Refugee crisisStudents from the Faculty’s Department of Geography presented a seminar to share their insights and first-hand experiences of the refugee crisis, following their recent field classes to Lesvos, Greece.

'So You Think You Know Everything About the Refugee Crisis?' was organised and led by student David McCourt. The event offered personal accounts from second and third year Geography students David McCourt, Sam Armfield, Kurtis Barrow and Adam Hanrahan.

The seminar follows their field trip to Lesvos from 12-17 March. Speakers also included Dr Dimitris Ballas, Dr Deborah Sporton, Professor Paul White and Cameroon refugee Mr Pride Mbi Agbor. On the title of the seminar, McCourt said: “Before the field class, we all thought we knew more than general public about the refugee crisis, but we didn’t.Being there, feeling emotions, we realized the truth of the situation.

“This event is a way of releasing our stresses in a productive way and allows us to act as a catalyst to get the refugees message heard.”

The class visited the refugee camp on the island where a lot of media coverage of the crisis has been positioned and has been subsequently visited by Angelia Jolie and Pope Francis.

Student Sam Armfield contrasted the media broadcasting with how it felt to be there in person. Sam said: “While the media has had an important impact throughout history of fostering an emotional attachment.

“The media cannot foster the human connection that is made when you go to somewhere and experience it in person or speak to someone who has gone through it.”

Adam Hanrahan, Student Vice President of the Geography Society, added: “This is the greatest humanitarian crisis since the second world war. I don’t think it’s been long enough in history for us to have forgotten how to treat strangers”

Dr Deborah Sporton, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, has journeyed to Lesvos on a separate occasion and said: “When we’re talking about the migrants that are arriving in Lesvos or in Europe, they are all traversing a journey that has put their lives at risk

“There are no formal ways in which people can travel at the moment because of the way Europe has become so securitized.

“Economic migrants are fleeing poverty and political regimes that may be corrupt. Is extreme poverty not a good enough reason to migrate and risk survival?”

The event was organized in support of the Hope Centre, a non profit organisation which supports refugees by providing comfort and clean clothing.