UNHCR welcomes announcement of Independent Paralympic Team comprising two refugees

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, warmly welcomes today’s announcement by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) of two refugees who will compete as a team in the upcoming 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The participation of a first-ever refugee team in the Paralympic Games is an example of what can be accomplished when refugees with disabilities are given the opportunity to pursue their dreams and apply their skills. While all forcibly displaced people face challenges, those with disabilities are often at heightened risk because they are less likely to be involved in decisions that concern them, face numerous barriers to accessing assistance, and thus risk having their key protection needs go unmet. As such, promoting their active inclusion and full participation in society – including through sports – is key to their protection and well-being.

“The Independent Paralympic Team is a symbol of the strength and determination of all refugees with disabilities in overcoming significant odds. We are very inspired by them and look forward to cheering them on. Including a refugee team in the Paralympic Games also sends a strong message of support to all refugees and asylum-seekers with disabilities worldwide, and UNHCR commends the IPC for this initiative”, said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

The team members, as announced by the IPC, are Ibrahim al Hussein, a refugee from Syria living in Greece, who will swim in the 50-m and 100-meter freestyle events; and Shahrad Nasajpour, an Iranian who was granted asylum in the United States and who will compete in discus. You will find more details on the team members here.

The Independent Paralympic Team initiative follows closely in the footsteps of the widely celebrated Refugee Olympic Team. As the first ever refugee team, they made history at the Rio2016 Games, representing the courage and perseverance of the world’s refugees and displaced people – a population that now exceeds 65 million.

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Additional information

  • For more details on the team, click here
  • To download photos and videos of the athletes, click here