Thousands of musicians played secret concerts in living rooms across 200 cities during Amnesty’s recent ‘Give a home’ event, billed as a global act of welcome for refugees. One of them, Ciaran McMeeken, was so inspired he penned a track with the same name hours before performing it in New Zealand.

He is releasing it on 6 October 2017 and donating all proceeds to Amnesty’s work: “I wrote this song from the perspective of a child losing their parents in a war torn country,” Ciaran said. “It really weighed heavy on me how fortunate and privileged we are here in NZ and also the importance of the fact that if we are able to help and give, even in just a small way, then we must. I truly hope this song can be of some solace or comfort for people out there”.

“Ciaran has written a really beautiful song,” said Meg de Ronde, Campaigns Director, for Amnesty International in New Zealand. “To offer it up in this way speaks volumes to his compassion and Amnesty International is really pleased to see him champion refugee rights. On behalf of all people around the world working to welcome refugees, thank you for your stand.” 

The singer was part of a star-studded line-up including Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé and Hot Chip. They were joined by refugee bands from around the world, including the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians performing in London, and Canadian-Somali pop duo Faarrow playing in Los Angeles.   

The concerts, run in partnership with Sofar Sounds, spanned over 24 hours and 60 countries on 20 September 2017. The shows supported Amnesty International’s I Welcome refugee campaign, which urges people to pressurize their governments – particularly the richest – to welcome more refugees.

Refugees welcome in New Zealand

New Zealand, the first country to kick off the global event, first began welcoming refugees in the 1930s. These days New Zealanders generally seem open to offering sanctuary to people fleeing war.

Amnesty recently campaigned alongside other organisations for Prime Minister Bill English’s government to double the number of refugees being accepted into the country every year to 1,000, which was achieved in 2016.

People like Ciaran welcoming refugees and taking action to offer support will make a real difference for people who have lost everything and are trying to rebuild their lives.

Meg de Ronde, Amnesty International New Zealand

We’ve also repeatedly called on Australia to end the brutal detention of refugees and asylum-seekers on two Pacific islands, Nauru and Manus. We are now involved in getting community sponsorship off the ground, with a pilot scheme set to launch in 2017.

Sponsorship is one of the ways local people and communities can welcome refugees in their own right, even when their governments won’t.

“People like Ciaran welcoming refugees and taking action to offer support will make a real difference for people who have lost everything and are trying to rebuild their lives,” said Meg de Ronde. The global Give a Home event was a celebration of what people can do and are doing to support refugees. “Where governments are building walls, deploying warships and closing doors, we are singing a different song: We welcome refugees,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s Secretary General.