FIVE refugees who have made their home in Swindon will visit the Houses of Parliament today in partnership with the recently launched Swindon City of Sanctuary movement.

Their visit will form part of the wider Sanctuary in Parliament event and will see them meet with South Swindon MP and City of Sanctuary supporter Robert Buckland among other parliamentarians.

One of the refugees, Kurdish asylum seeker Ali Mohammedyan, will get the chance to perform a traditional song.

Ali’s performance at last month’s Swindon City of Sanctuary launch event was a highlight of the evening for many in attendance.

Speakers from across the country made the trip to the south west to congratulate Swindon on becoming the latest town to embrace the principles of taking steps to become a safe and welcoming community for those seeking protection from conflict and poverty around the world.

The Sanctuary in Parliament event aims to further that work, the international community finds itself in an age of mass movement and countries are facing internal struggles as they adapt to the reality of unprecedented numbers of people seeking refuge in far-away lands.

The event, the first of its kind, will see MPs listening to refugee testimonies, as well as music and poetry performances. It coincides with a parliamentary debate on refugee family reunions taking place later this afternoon in Westminster Hall.

Swindon’s City of Sanctuary campaign will be sending four of its members alongside the five refugees now based here.

Nicola Johnson, who chairs the Swindon campaign, said: “Refugees are people like us who have been forced to flee their homes and leave everything behind for fear of persecution.

“We believe in the human instinct of ordinary people to be hospitable and sympathetic towards them, especially if they meet face to face.

“Our local group hopes to create opportunities for refugees and local people to meet and share life, in activities as varied as football, conversation clubs and antenatal classes while improving the welcome in health, education and civic society.”

Robert Buckland MP said: “I am glad to be able to go to the Sanctuary in Parliament event.

“Hearing direct accounts from people who have fled from danger and suffering is essential if we are to truly understand this issue.”

The refugees from Swindon will be joined by around 150 of their counterparts from over 70 communities across the UK and organisers are hoping for a healthy turnout by MPs from the various constituencies.