Sanctuary for Refugees

A 15-year old view on the Syrian Refugee Crisis: “Tears of the Mediterranean” displayed in WCIA’s ‘Wales for Peace’ exhibition at Oriel Pendeitch, Caernarfon (Autumn 2016) and Ucheldre Centre, Holyhead (Summer 2018).

During WW1, Welsh communities offered sanctuary to more than 4,000 Belgian refugees fleeing the outbreak of conflict in Flanders Fields.

In the 1930s, Basque children fleeing the Spanish civil war were welcomed from Carmarthenshire to Denbighshire to Newport and Swansea; and Jewish ‘kindertransport’ fleeing the rise of Hitler prior to WW2, found sanctuary in Powys and Conwy.

Many would return to their homes, or start lives anew, after these horrific conflicts ended. Many made huge contributions to Welsh society and communities – and some chose to stay and have become a part of the fabric of Welsh society.

Successive waves of conflict victims – up to the Syria crisis of today – have not only been offered sanctuary, but have contributed to and shaped Welsh society. What can we learn from this aspect of Wales’ peace heritage? Is Wales today a place of peace – and could Wales become the world’s first ‘Nation of Sanctuary‘?