Swedish teenagers raise US$800,000 to help Congolese refugee students

News Stories, 21 September 2006

© UNHCR/K.Rodriguez
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres meets representatives of the Swedish Student Organisation and thanks them for their support.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, September 21 (UNHCR) The Congolese refugee children in Rwanda's Gihembe camp have a good reason to smile Swedish students have collected nearly US$800,000 towards their education.

"It really warms my heart that Swedish youths and public in general are such ardent supporters of the refugee cause," said Machiko Kondo, UNHCR's regional representative in the Baltic and Nordic countries.

Nearly 80,000 Swedish teenagers from some 250 schools participated in the "Operation a Day's Work" campaign, which is held every May by the Swedish Student Organisation to fund an educational project in a developing country. The results of the exercise have only just been released.

This year's beneficiaries are Congolese refugee children who attend UNHCR's schools at the Gihembe camp, and a total of 5.8 million Swedish kronor (US$794,000) was collected towards their education. The money will be used to refurbish classrooms, buy school materials and train more teachers.

"With this exceptional result, thousands of refugee children are given a better future. A big thank you to you all," Kondo said.

During his visit to Sweden last December, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres met with representatives from the Swedish Student Organisation and expressed his gratitude for their support. UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie has also praised the high school students.

Representatives of the student organisation were also thanked by Ms Kondo for the excellent collaboration UNHCR has enjoyed with them during the campaign. She said she hoped there would be a chance to cooperate again.

By Paal Aarsaether in Stockholm, Sweden