UNHCR and business partners give refugee kids a voice through ninemillion.org campaign
24 January 2007
DAVOS, Switzerland - UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres on Wednesday briefed participants at the World Economic Forum on an innovative way to give voice to many of the world's nine million refugee children.
Addressing international media executives at an opening luncheon for the annual meeting in Davos, Guterres said the aim of the campaign, "ninemillion.org" (www.ninemillion.org), is to help raise awareness for the world's nine million refugee children and provide them with greater access to education and sport programmes.
The ninemillion.org campaign was launched in June 2006 by UNHCR and its founding campaign partners, Nike and Microsoft, to bring much-needed attention and support to refugee youth.
"These are nine million children who are often forgotten and unheard; nine million stories of being forced to flee homes because of war, or parents who have been killed, or being born in refugee camps; nine million children who should have access to education and sport, like any other child should," said Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister.
"Refugee children are among the most marginalized people on earth. Especially with protracted and complex crises such as in Darfur/Sudan and Somalia, we tend to forget that beyond the 20-second news flashes there are millions of refugees, many of them children, living for years in often unbearable conditions, robbed of their chances for personal development. Today, UNHCR is trying to give a voice to some nine million refugee children. But we can't do it alone. If the refugee voice is to be heard and understood, we need all the help we can get. And that's where our corporate partners and ninemillion.org come in."
ninemillion.org is the flagship among the UNHCR Council of Business Leaders' initiatives. Launched in Davos in 2005, it includes Manpower, Microsoft, Merck, Nike and PricewaterhouseCoopers. It is a unique public - private partnership supported by some of the world's major corporations and foundations as well as a major sport federation, the NBA [(U.S.) National Basketball Assocation] and WNBA [women's ditto].
Since its kick-off, the ninemillion.org campaign has attracted some 2 million visitors and raised approximately US$1.5 million.
Already, education and sport projects are being implemented with NGOs such as Right To Play International. The bulk of the money raised will be invested in Kenyan and Ugandan refugee communities for local education and sport projects.
The campaign aims also at connecting young people through new online communities such as nine-million.spaces.live.com using Windows Live Spaces, Microsoft's free blogging platform.
On January 17, Microsoft launched "Click for a Cause", highlighting ninemillion.org as the first project to benefit from this new innovation in online search. Microsoft Windows Live will donate to the ninemillion.org campaign every time someone initiates a search from click4thecause.live.com.
In addition to using modern technology, ninemillion.org has enrolled the support of a successful refugee band to reach out to a larger, younger audience. Performing at the media lunch were the Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, former refugees who formed a band while in exile in a West African refugee camp and who have now performed throughout the world. Living proof that refugees can become a source of creativity and support to those who shelter them from war, the Refugee All Stars are now using their album, "Living Like a Refugee," to raise awareness and funds for the ninemillion.org campaign.
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