More than 150,000 young people living in camps for refugees and internally displaced people will get access to sport through a two-year programme which will see the distribution of IOC sports kits in 20 countries throughout Asia, Africa and America. The IOC, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Samsung, one of the IOC’s TOP partners, have teamed up to bring the joy of sport and the related psychological benefits to young refugees who have often suffered enormous atrocities.
Basic equipment - important impact
The concept is as simple as it is successful. A sports kit contains basic sports and recreational material for about 300 kids, such as different balls, bibs, caps, shirts and chalk to mark the field. This equipment is sufficient to set up organised sports activites in camps and settlements which have the power to provide a semblance of normality and structure to lives that are in disarray. Sport offers an outlet that channels energy positively and helps to develop tolerance, cooperation and an appreciation of rules. UNHCR country teams select the camps by assessing where the positive impact of sport may be maximised.
Launch in India and South Africa
Last week, the programme was launched in India (New Delhi) as well as in South Africa (Cape Town and Limpopo province) where more than 17,000 and 59,000 young asylum-seekers and refugees respectively will benefit from the distribution of sports kits. In a message, IOC President Jacques Rogge said: “Thanks to the sports kits donated, many young people living in camps and settlements for refugees will be able to experience the joy of sport. They deserve to live like other young people in the world: learning and playing. I would like to thank the UNHCR, our long-term partner, and the Samsung Company, our TOP partner, for their strong collaboration in this joint programme.”
Rising numbers of refugees and internally displaced people
The programme launch coincided with World Refugee Day, which is celebrated each year on 20 June. It is a day to honour the courage, strength and determination of men, women and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. There are more than 42 million refugees and internally displaced people worldwide, and each year, this number increases by 800,000 newly affected people. While some displacement situations are short-lived, others can take years and even decades to resolve, according to the UNHCR. And while the most urgent needs undoubtedly include the provision of food and health services, sport can play an important role in relieving tensions and fears among people having to live together in camps and settlements.