Launched in 2018, the projects will facilitate social cohesion and create safe spaces for young refugees and displaced people.
IOC President Thomas Bach said: “The Olympic Refuge Foundation has continued to reaffirm its commitment to supporting the protection and empowerment of vulnerable displaced people through sport and through the creation of safe spaces. The recent announcement of the Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020 will again put the spotlight on the continuing global refugee crisis and the role sport can have in protecting vulnerable youth around the world.”
UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi said: “Sport institutions can play a considerable role in refugee responses. Our longstanding partnership with the International Olympic Committee and the more recent establishment of the Olympic Refuge Foundation are the perfect example. Through this partnership we are able to ensure better access to sport programmes for some of the world’s most disadvantaged children and youth.”
Young people make up the majority of the estimated 68.5 million refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide, often living in precarious conditions. Sport is a powerful driver for social change, uniting people, promoting a culture of peace and fostering youth development, education and social integration.
In Jordan, the first project supported by the Olympic Refuge Foundation and implemented by the local partner Right to Play, named “Advanced Cohesion in Communities through Engagement in Structured Sports (ACCESS)” will create opportunities for 4,500 vulnerable children to engage with peers from different background in their communities.
The Olympic Refuge Foundation is also supporting Generations for Peace to implement “Sport for Peace, Life Skills and Social Cohesion”, which will reach 12,000 Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanian children using sports activities and life-skills components. It aims to enhance social cohesion by increasing resilience to violence.
Finally, the project “Strengthening Social Cohesion and Inclusion through Sports amongst the Refugee and Host Youth” will impact over 40,000 children and young people in Turkey. A coalition comprising the Turkish Olympic Committee, the Ministry of Youth and Sport of the Turkish Republic, local NGO Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM) and UNHCR has been established to deliver this project. Sport and physical activities will be organised in five Turkish cities that have a high number of Syrian refugees to increase interaction between refugee and host communities; identify common values; improve individual physical and emotional well-being; and enable community dispute-resolution.
The “Sport for Social Cohesion and Development” project will be implemented by UNHCR Kenya and local NGOs to pilot the Olympic Refuge Foundation’s Sport for Protection toolkit in order to improve community cohesion and peaceful co-existence. It will be developed in the Kalobeyei Camp, near the Kakuma Refugee Camp, which hosts a displaced population that includes 19 nationalities.
The “Sport for Protection toolkit: Programming with Young People in Forced Displacement Settings” was launched during the Olympism in Action Forum on 5 October, in Buenos Aires, and has been created by the IOC, UNHCR and Terre des hommes. This toolkit will be used by the Olympic Refuge Foundation to guide organisations and stakeholders to better understand and implement effective Sport for Protection programming on site.
During the meeting of the Olympic Refuge Foundation, the IOC President also welcomed the appointment of Paris Mayor and Chair of the C40 Cities Leadership Group Anne Hidalgo as a new Board member.
“I am very happy Ms Anne Hidalgo has accepted to join the Olympic Refuge Board. Her experience, profile and commitment will greatly enhance our realisation of the vision of the Foundation.”
The IOC created the Olympic Refuge Foundation in 2017 to support the protection and empowerment of vulnerable displaced people through sport and through the creation of safe spaces, partnering with UNHCR and local implementation partners in the field.