A PICNIC with a difference is set to kick off a week-long celebration of cultural diversity in York on Sunday.

From 12.30pm, The Museum Gardens will host the York Refugee Week 2003 launch picnic.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend to sample food from right across the globe.

Refugee Week press officer Rory Palmer said: "It promises to be an excellent event. Please come along and bring food that reflects the cultural diversity of the world's refugee populations."

The picnic is the first in a programme of events for York as the city takes part in the Refugee Week.

Mr Palmer said: "Refugee Week is aimed at celebrating cultural diversity and promoting understanding about the reasons why people seek sanctuary.

"It is a chance to deliver positive educational messages that counter fear, ignorance and the negative stereotyping of refugees, and an opportunity to tell people about the enormous economic and cultural contribution that refugees have made to British society."

This year's theme for Refugee Week is children and young people, reflected in the programme of events.

Highlights include Monday's letter-writing lunch, at the Spurriergate Centre from 12pm to 1pm, at which people are invited to write in support of prisoners of conscience, detainees in UK detention centres, or to the press about the representation of refugees in the media.

Tuesday, at 7pm, will see a public lecture by internationally-renowned human rights lawyer Keir Starmer QC.

On Thursday, at a time to be confirmed, there will be an evening of music and rap in support of Refugee Week at the University of York.

For more details or a full programme of events phone Esme Madill on 01904 671172.

Updated: 09:33 Saturday, June 14, 2003