A choir created in response to the Syrian refugee crisis performs at Glastonbury Festival 2022

Members of a refugee choir have spoken of their excitement at performing at the Glastonbury Festival, describing it as a “massive platform”.

Scroll through the gallery above to see photos from Glastonbury Festival 2022 so far

The World Citizens Choir was founded in 2015 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, and today is made up of 50 people, with refugees from over 30 different countries.

Aref Hussaini, 23, is Afghan but grew up in Pakistan. Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “Our community has been persecuted by extremists like the Taliban and other extremist groups in Pakistan.

“We were targeted…that’s why I left (from Pakistan).”

He arrived in the UK in early 2020 and saw a leaflet for the choir as he was being treated by authorities at a refugee hostel.

“I love to sing. When you’re in a choir it’s easier. You have the support of your friends around you,” he told PA.

Hussaini said he was “really looking forward to” the choir’s performance and also watched Billie Eilish’s set at the Pyramid Stage on Friday night.

Sonia, 38, who chose not to share her surname, is from Iran and is now a member of the choir.

She told PA she was “grateful” to be involved. “In this crazy situation that we find ourselves in with the Conservative government doing all these unfair and unjust things that send refugees back to Rwanda, it’s kind of a fightback as a refugee here.

None of us are alike – it’s amazing

Becky Dell, Music Director

“I am grateful for this situation and this opportunity.”

She described the choir as a “platform for everyone, equally”, saying they “raised our voices, sang loudly, proudly from our hearts and told the audience that our blood was the same color”. .

Anna Vryzhan, 28, an event planner, is from Mariupol, Ukraine, a city heavily bombed since the Russian invasion.

She was in Kyiv when the invasion started and decided to leave the country in early March.

She came to the UK as part of the government’s Homes for Ukraine program and is hosted by another member of the choir.

She told PA that the choir allows people to be “united in one place, all from different parts of the world”.

“He did not have this experience before (of) such kindness, such a welcome, (it) helps to forget everything.”

Becky Dell, the musical director, told PA that when the choir started, the team behind it said “it would be an amazing goal to play Glastonbury…and we’re there”.

The choir is made up 50/50 of refugees and non-refugees, and calls itself the “rainbow tribe”, according to Dell, because “none of us are alike – it’s amazing”.

She said the choir hopes to “elevate the narrative around the refugees; too often the story is of ‘poor refugees’, it sends them away.

“We wanted to show the refugees in a different way. They are first and foremost displaced human beings.”

Updated: June 26, 2022, 05:34

Jan G. Gilbert