WE Day UK Arrivals

Rita Ora Pleads for Refugees

10 Mar 2016

The pop star has asked British students to help end racism towards refugees

The R.I.P. singer, whose parents fled the disputed territory of Kosovo when she was just a year old, spoke to young pupils at the WE Day event in London on 9 March, held to celebrate the charitable deeds of British school and university students.

In her speech, Rita described her own experiences as a refugee and called on youths to reach out and embrace refugees, especially those displaced by the ongoing civil war in Syria.

"I was born in Kosovo and when I was one year old had to flee the country with my parents and sister," she said.

"We sought refuge in the U.K. The word refugee carries a lot of prejudice and not everyone is comfortable having refugees settle into their environment. Some people make negative judgements on new immigrants, and others simply turn a blind eye.”

"Two of the issues my family faced when we first arrived are ever-present: racism and indifference. Islamophobia is on the rise and some people are making negative judgements on new immigrants and British citizens based on their skin colour, clothing and more,” Ora continued.

"Many people also feel indifferent to what's happening - as though the crisis in Syria and the people affected have no connection to all of us. These attitudes need to change and we can approach this crisis with compassion and care, if we take action, we can help everyone thrive."

Other celebrities who attended the SSE Arena event, held in conjunction with the charity Free the Children, included actor Clive Owen, as well as musicians Labrinth and Fleur East.

WE Day aims to celebrate youths making a difference in their local and global communities.