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FC Barcelona plays Manchester City - and refugee children are the winners

News Stories, 24 August 2009

© Photo copyright and courtesy of FC Barcelona
Playing for refugees:
FC Barcelona debuted MÉS jerseys to raise money for UNHCR sports and education projects during a game against Manchester City on August 19.

BARCELONA, Spain, August 24 (UNHCR) When FC Barcelona took to the field for the 44th Joan Gamper Trophy last week, what mattered to 25 million refugees and others helped by UNHCR around the world was not the outcome Barcelona lost 1-0 to Manchester City but the distinctive jerseys the Spanish side were wearing.

In front of more than 94,000 fans who turned out for the annual pre-season competition that carries the name of the founder of FC Barcelona, the players sported new MÉS campaign jerseys specially designed by Nike for the occasion.

MÉS is an alliance between FC Barcelona, Nike and UNHCR launched last year with the slogan "More than a Club" to raise money for sports and education projects for young and vulnerable refugees by selling specially-designed sweatshirts, tee shirts and caps.

By wearing the newest jerseys, the FC Barcelona players intended to draw attention to the plight of the 42 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, nearly 25 million of whom were receiving protection or assistance from UNHCR at the end of 2008.

FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta said the club's commitment to work with UNHCR "is what makes us different from our competitors. It means commitment and solidarity, and Barcelona's solidarity is now a reality."

A limited edition of 1,899 of the new jerseys are being produced worldwide, the number corresponding to the year FC Barcelona was founded. The limited edition MÉS jersey will be sold exclusively in three Barcelona stores and online through the website www.mesfootball.org.

The jerseys the players wore in last week's game against Manchester City of the English Premier League will also be auctioned in September to raise more money for UNHCR projects, which have already benefited thousands of refugee children in Nepal, Ecuador, and Rwanda.

By Rosa Otero
in Barcelona, Spain

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UNHCR country pages

MÉS

In partnership with Nike and Spanish football giants, FC Barcelona, a campaign to raise funds for education and sports projects in refugee camps through the sale of a special line of clothing.

Children

Almost half the people of concern to UNHCR are children. They need special care.

Refworld – Children

This Special Feature on Child Protection is a comprehensive source of relevant legal and policy documents, practical tools and links to related websites.

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Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

UNHCR aims to help 25,000 refugee children go to school in Syria by providing financial assistance to families and donating school uniforms and supplies.

There are some 1.4 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria, most having fled the extreme sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra in 2006.

Many Iraqi refugee parents regard education as a top priority, equal in importance to security. While in Iraq, violence and displacement made it difficult for refugee children to attend school with any regularity and many fell behind. Although education is free in Syria, fees associated with uniforms, supplies and transportation make attending school impossible. And far too many refugee children have to work to support their families instead of attending school.

To encourage poor Iraqi families to register their children, UNHCR plans to provide financial assistance to at least 25,000 school-age children, and to provide uniforms, books and school supplies to Iraqi refugees registered with UNHCR. The agency will also advise refugees of their right to send their children to school, and will support NGO programmes for working children.

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