Olympic kits to bring the joy of sport to tens of thousands of refugees

UNHCR will help distribute sport kits in 20 countries in three continents over the next two years under a programme with the IOC and Samsung.

One kit was given to the Kurisanani Youth Project in South Africa. These children are wearing some of the items.  © UNHCR

GENEVA, July 18 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency will help distribute sport kits in 20 countries over the next two years under a programme aimed at bringing sports to more than 150,000 youngsters living in camps for the forcibly displaced.

UNHCR has teamed up with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the South Korea-based Samsung Group to run the scheme, which was launched recently at ceremonies in India and South Africa.

Each IOC sports kit contains basic equipment and material for about 300 players, including balls, bibs, caps, shirts and chalk to mark out a field. The kits will enable young people in refugee or IDP (internally displaced person) camps or sites to organize games that will help provide fun and a semblance of normality in their lives.

The sports kits will be distributed at 20 sites chosen by UNHCR in Africa, Asia and South America. IOC President Jacques Rogge said that distribution of the sports kits would mean that "many young people living in camps and settlements for refugees will be able to experience the joy of sport. They deserve to live like other young people in the world: learning and playing."

UNHCR has long promoted sport and education for all refugee children. Sport can play an important role in relieving tension and fear among people having to live together in camps and settlements.

The programme was launched just weeks ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres will attend the opening on July 27.