Giant puppet of Syrian girl starts England tour to mark World Refugee Week


LONDON: A giant puppet designed to highlight the plight of child refugees embarked on a tour of England on Sunday and will visit landmark destinations as part of World Refugee Week.

Little Amal, the giant puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl, became an international symbol of human rights after she journeyed from the Turkish-Syrian border to Manchester last July. Amal means “hope” in Arabic.

This year, the 3.5m puppet began her New Steps New Friends tour in Manchester, where she will be the special guest at the Manchester Day Parade with thousands of children and families all celebrating in the city.

She will visit 10 towns and cities across England to share her resilient and hopeful message: “Don’t forget about us.”

Artistic director Amir Nizar Zuabi said: “It is because the attention of the world is elsewhere right now that it is more important than ever to reignite the conversation about the refugee crisis and to change the narrative around it.

“Yes, refugees need food and blankets, but they also need dignity and a voice. The purpose of The Walk is to highlight the potential of the refugee, not just their dire circumstances. 

“Little Amal is 3.5 meters tall because we want the world to grow big enough to greet her. We want her to inspire us to think big and to act bigger,” Zuabi said. 

After participating in the Manchester Day Parade, Amal will go on to visit Bradford, Leeds and the Liverpool docks. She will also meet communities in Birmingham, Cheltenham and Bristol’s historic Old City and Harbour.

She will return to the Southbank Centre in London and visit Stonehenge before finishing her journey on the beach in Folkestone in Kent.

In May, Amal landed in Poland, bringing aid relief packages for Ukrainian refugee children and their families.

“The machine of war is faceless, it’s metal grinding metal, but victims of the battles grownups fight have names and children are often the worst victims. That’s why Amal went to Ukraine. She’s a big girl so she can remind us there are many Amals and many Annas and many Andriys and many Abduls,” Zuabi said.

In September 2022, Amal will travel to New York City. She will travel through all five boroughs, meeting artists, civic leaders, community groups and New Yorkers of all backgrounds.

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