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Minutes of Group Meeting October 10th 2016

Attending: Carolyn, Fionnula, Adrienne, Paul, Beatrice, Bryan, Phyllis, Leo, Liz, Mark, Carmel, Heiko, Grainne, Claudia, Paddy, Jenny, Cormac.

Welcome: Carolyn welcomed & introduced the guest speakers, Norma  Ncube & Justin Kouame, chair of NICRAS.
Guest speakers: Norma & Justin both spoke informatively & passionately. Both have been living in Belfast for a number of years & spoke of the difficulties they & other destitute asylum seekers face.  

Minutes: No issues raised from September minutes

Good news: 10 year old Syrian girl, injured by a sniper, has received lifesaving surgery. Amnesty were among NGOs calling for this.

Feedback of recent events:
Culture Night: The group thought Culture Night was a big success. Many people used the 3D Syria goggles so awareness was raised. The group thanked Fionnula & Adrienne for organising this.

I Welcome Refugees at Stormont: Approx 200 attended including MLAs & NGOs. The group thanked Adrienne for her work organising the event.

Refugee Campaign: Adrienne gave some background to the refugee campaign & advised it was still being determined what will be the ask of MPs & MLAs. Paul suggested the group await outcome of this to determine it’s focus. Adrienne advised the Belfast office should have a concrete set of policies by end of year. Grainne suggested group members such as Claudia & Heiko who work or have contact with other groups could speak to them & report back at next meeting.
Amnesty is working with various grassroots refugee groups & dealing with destitution was a top priority. Amnesty is amplifying the voices of organisations already working with refugees. The government’s plans in 2017 which withdraws safeguards for families with small children from destitution will only make the situation even worse. All parties except DUP support the campaign against these plans. Carolyn mentioned all the work the group had done in this area including attending the Stormont demo, Paul & Heiko attending the skills share event, letter writing, guest speakers, previous meetings & political lobbying.

Upcoming Events:
Refugee skills share event in York on 26/27 November. Paul is attending & there is one more place available.

Write for Rights: Saturday 10th December 2016. Venue to be confirmed. It will either be the Black Box or the Dark Horse. Paul advised one of the IARs the group has worked on, Johan Teterissa, is one of the cases.

Screening of Citizen Four: Claudia is to advise further on location & date, possibly 10th December,  & if it can be included in the Human Rights Week programme. Heiko advised this week is the deadline for getting events into the brochure. Claudia will invite Amnesty USA country co-ordinator Lise Rossi to attend the event .

West Africa Action: The group wrote letters for Burundian IAR Jean Bigirimana, a journalist missing after being arrested in July.
Peru: The group wrote letters for family of Maxima Acuna, who were attacked by mining personnel who have tried for years  to intimidate the family off their land.
Uzbekistan: The group signed cards calling for the closure of a detention camp.
UK: The group wrote I Welcome Refugees letters to local MPs.

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