To help refugees through sport, UNHCR signs partnership with Olympic Movement – ​​World

June 01, 2022

MADRID – UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, today signed a memorandum of understanding with the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF) that aims to deepen its work with the Olympic Movement to provide opportunities for refugees and other forcibly displaced people at all levels on the participate in sports.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, signed the MoU during a meeting of the ORF board in Madrid, at the headquarters of the Spanish Olympic Committee. President Thomas Bach of the International Olympic Committee signed for the ORF.

The signing comes days after ORF and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team were awarded the prestigious 2022 Princess of Asturias Prize for Sport.

UNHCR and the IOC have a long-standing partnership and jointly founded the Olympic Refuge Foundation in 2017. Beyond the focus on Olympic events, the ORF is committed to protecting, sporting and personal development of displaced persons by reaching one million young people by 2024.

Organized sport development activities can help normalize young people’s lives disrupted by conflict and displacement. They provide opportunities for better inclusion and protection to help young people heal, thrive and grow. Sport can also strengthen refugee communities and help form closer ties with the communities that host them.

UNHCR’s Sport for Protection approach builds on this understanding and sport’s unique ability to actively and meaningfully engage young people. Sport for Protection programs aim to achieve positive outcomes in at least three areas: social inclusion, social cohesion and psychosocial well-being.

Since 2014, UNHCR, together with the IOC and ORF, has carried out significant sports activities in Jordan, Ethiopia, Colombia, Rwanda, Mexico, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kakuma in Kenya.

UNHCR also worked with the IOC to bring refugee athletes to the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics as the first refugee Olympic team and repeated this in Tokyo 2021. Since September 2021, ORF has assumed overall responsibility for the IOC program for refugee athletes and will manage the Refugee Olympic Team at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Today’s signing reflects UNHCR’s increased focus on the role sport and sports organizations can play in helping refugees, and is one of a growing number of partnerships with sports organizations working to achieve better outcomes for people displaced are forced. Other partnerships include UEFA, Special Olympics and the International Judo Federation.

For more information on this topic, please contact:
In Geneva: Stephen Pattison [email protected] +41 79 500 87 74
In Madrid, María Jesús Vega, email: [email protected] + 34 670661263

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