Press Release: For nine million refugee youth, a chance to learn and play

UN Refugee Agency Launches Innovative Global Campaign with Corporate Partners to Help World's Refugee Youth

LONDON (20 June 2006 - World Refugee Day) - Nine million faces. Nine million names. Nine million stories. They are the world's forgotten refugee youth. Today, an innovative global campaign is being launched to bring them attention and a better future, a chance to change their future through the power of education and sport. Called ninemillion.org, the campaign aims to create a global community dedicated to giving the world's refugee youth the chance to learn and play.

ninemillion.org is being launched as part of World Refugee Day by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with the support of founding campaign partners Nike, Inc. and Microsoft, both founding members of UNHCR's Council of Business Leaders, and Right To Play, the Toronto-based international humanitarian organization dedicated to using sport and play to foster the healthy physical, social and emotional development of children in refugee camps worldwide.

"ninemillion.org is about giving the world's refugee youth a chance to see beyond their current situation and begin to rebuild their lives," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. "Our greatest priority is to help refugees in crisis and to find lasting solutions for them. Once out of harm's way, the needs of refugees continue despite having moved off the front pages, and those needs far exceed existing sources of funding. All too often, the world's nine million refugee youth become the most forgotten. They are denied their basic rights to childhood and are left with uncertain futures. ninemillion.org can help refugee youth by giving them a chance to learn and play, a chance to change their future through education and sport."

Kicking off the ninemillion.org campaign is a 30-second public service announcement featuring Brazilian football star Ronaldo, a UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Goodwill Ambassador. The public service announcement is available for viewing at ninemillion.org, which features individual portraits and biographies of refugee youth from camps in Azerbaijan, Uganda and Thailand. These are youth who have seen their parents killed, have fled their homes because of war, or who have been born in a refugee camp and known nothing else. Yet despite the trauma and conflict of their lives, and the harsh conditions of a refugee camp, they are connected by a universal love of sport and the desire to learn and create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. ninemillion.org is committed to giving them that chance.

In addition to raising awareness about refugee youth, ninemillion.org is the primary way individuals can donate money to the campaign. To kick off the fund-raising effort, the Nike Foundation announced a matching grant for the first US$1 million donated to ninemillion.org.

Nike, Inc. supported UNHCR by developing the overall concept and content for ninemillion.org and enlisted key support from other council members such as Microsoft. Nike developed the public service announcement with Ronaldo and other video of refugee youth in Azerbaijan, Uganda and Thailand. T-shirts featuring the ninemillion.org logo will be available for purchase at select Nike retail outlets worldwide, with net proceeds supporting the campaign. Additionally, Nike has donated 40,000 balls, designed specifically for durability in harsh refugee camp conditions, to UNHCR for refugee kids. Nike also will broaden awareness of ninemillion.org by creating a digital presence on nike.com and nikefootball.com, and by launching a ninemillion.org community on joga.com.

Microsoft is supporting ninemillion.org through MSN, its online media network, by hosting and localizing the Web site content in nine languages and providing 2.8 billion impressions of primary advertising media worth an estimated US$1 million, plus editorial placement and promotional support for the campaign. MSN is featuring ninemillion.org on local portal, Hotmail and Messenger sites in the top ten markets in Europe and on MSN.com in the United States. In the European markets, MSN is also featuring ninemillion.org on MSN's popular "Road to the World Cup" channel. In addition, Microsoft will support education projects through donations of software to non-governmental organization partners, as well as the provision of curriculum and basic training content.

Two-thirds of money raised through ninemillion.org will be distributed by UNHCR to support education in refugee communities, including fundamental education and life skills training; HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention; gender sensitivity; and peace education programs for war-torn communities. The remaining one-third will fund access to customized sport and play programs by Right To Play for refugee youth, with an emphasis on getting girls and young women onto the playing field.

Other companies supporting ninemillion.org

Earth Water International, the Canada-based bottled water company that contributes 100 percent of its net profits to UNHCR, will feature the ninemillion.org campaign logo on its newly designed labels. Currently sold throughout Canada, Earth Water will expand its distribution to the United States later this summer and to Western Europe and Asia in the coming year.

Manpower Inc. will support ninemillion.org through broad internal and external outreach. The company's CEO will invite the more than 27,000 Manpower employees across 4,400 offices in 72 countries to get involved and spread the word in their local communities. Information on ninemillion.org also will be available on the company's Web site, and campaign information will be distributed to Manpower's vast client and temporary employee/contractor networks.

Merck & Co, Inc., in collaboration with UNHCR and the International Council of Nurses (ICN) is delivering nursing knowledge and related training for health workers in refugee camps located in Tanzania and Zambia through a program of mobile nursing libraries. The libraries will increase access to the latest nursing and health information to meet refugee health priorities. Merck is also supporting ninemillion.org through its Partnership for Giving Program, which will match employee contributions to the campaign.

The National Basketball Association and Women's National Basketball Association will support ninemillion.org, through NBA Cares, the League's global outreach initiative. The NBA will be broadcasting the ninemillion.org public service announcement on NBA TV, and information on ninemillion.org will also be available on NBA.com.

Procter & Gamble also joined ninemillion.org via its Children's Safe Drinking Water program. Procter & Gamble will provide more than 1 million sachets of PUR Purifier of Water for safe drinking water in refugee camps. The company also will link to ninemillion.org from its Web site and encourage employees to join the campaign.