Kick-off for a new sort of campaign: “I am 1 Who Cares”

Tuesday 14, June 2011 BUDAPEST, June 14 (UNHCR) – “1 refugee without hope is one too many”. This slogan is heard and seen across Central Europe as the UN Refugee Agency launches its “1 campaign” globally on June 14 putting the individual displaced man, woman or child in focus. But […]

Tuesday 14, June 2011

BUDAPEST, June 14 (UNHCR) – “1 refugee without hope is one too many”. This slogan is heard and seen across Central Europe as the UN Refugee Agency launches its “1 campaign” globally on June 14 putting the individual displaced man, woman or child in focus. But the awareness raising initiative does not stop there. “I am 1 Who Cares” can now be read on T-shirts, wristbands, pins and caps of individuals showing solidarity with people in flight. In Slovakia, even umbrellas with this slogan will protect refugees and non-refugees alike against the rain.

And that is not the end of the story either. The “1 campaign” also calls for action for asylum seekers and refugees. “Do 1 Thing” is the message that goes beyond the organizations usually working for people with this predicament. It engages companies, academia, creative individuals, ordinary citizens and Governments throughout Central Europe. UNHCR launches this campaign as part of the commemoration of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Sixty years after governments expressed their solidarity with refugees by signing what has become the corner stone of refugee protection worldwide, the UN Refugee Agency wants the public to reaffirm its support for the same values by calling on governments to show humanity and to respect human rights.

“Do 1 thing” for people who have fled to a Central European country can mean many different things. The campaign has an unusually high number of different slogans so that the gaps in refugee protection or the lack of specific information can be addressed. In Bulgaria, for instance, UNHCR focuses on the refugee as part of a family. “1 family forced to flee is too many”, runs the theme chosen for this country where UNHCR calls on kids of 13 years and older to learn more about refugees through the interactive and highly informative online game www.playagainstallodds.com. Families in “1 campaign” T-shirts and wristbands as well as staff from the State Agency for Refugees and the refugee assisting community will join UNHCR on a hike to 2290 meter high Mount Vitosha (on the outskirts of the capital Sofia) to commemorate World Refugee Day.

But you don’t have to work in a Government or non-governmental organization to “Do 1 Thing” for refugees. This is even possible if you labour in an airline Office. Romanian Tarom’s management decided to put the “1 campaign” video spot starring UNHCR’s Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie on all their flights for free for an entire month, starting on World Refugee Day (June 20). Angelina Jolie’s message will also be screened on all public buses throughout the capital Bucharest for 13 days, totaling over 84,000 screenings. The company that did “1 Thing” was SalesExpress, a media enterprise that normally sells screen time for cash. For UNHCR’s “1 campaign” the company worked totally pro bono. The popular video will be present throughout Central Europe, including to kick off a World Refugee Day celebration on the largest square of Bratislava, Slovakia. 

Learn more about refugees can also mean: Follow UNHCR on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr. Or speak up for them when you hear prejudice talk. In Bulgaria, the UN Refugee Agency will try to debunk popular myths about asylum seekers. The country is overrun by people seeking protection, runs one of them. The facts speak a different language: Some 1030 such claims in 2010 are a manageable task for this EU country. Romania with 860 applications is in a similar situation, other countries managed to accommodate many more new asylum seekers last year.

In Poland, UNHCR also uses the “1 campaign” to voice concerns about gaps in dealings with asylum seekers. “1 child behind bars is too many”. Detention of innocent asylum seekers is a serious issue in many Central European countries. Despite of alternatives and ideas how to better process their protection claims, men, women and children seeking asylum end up behind bars for bureaucratic reasons. Hungary is a country where UNHCR came across very though conditions for people who have not done any harm to anybody, they have just crossed the border into Hungary unlawfully. In this environment, Győző Nehéz decided, he wanted to be “1 who cares” about refugees. Mr. Nehéz is the owner of a small tour operator in the Hungarian capital called “Budapesti séták” (Budapest Walks). He approached UNHCR to donate a guided tour for recognized refugees to historic sites of the 1956 Revolution (its oppression led to a massive refugee movement out of Hungary displacing hundreds of thousands to European and overseas countries). So three days before World Refugee Day, on June 17, a dozen refugees, many from Afghanistan, will be seen walking through their host city Budapest. Asked about his motivation to “Do 1 Thing”, Mr. Nehéz was quite frank: “All states consider refugees as a problem. ‘Budapest Walks’ has a different approach.”

Young Hungarian photographer Rita Klenk, too, is “1 Who Cares”. Voluntarily she went to conflict-torn Somalia to provide the UN Refugee Agency with photographs for its publications and web applications completely for free. As part of the “1 Campaign” her exhibition “Somalia’s Forgotten People” will be on display in Budapest’s Gödör klub starting on June 19. 

UNHCR is inviting media organizations to also engage and support the campaign via their news and blog sites. For interested media organizations, online digital banners and the video by UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie are available. 

Do 1 Thing to help refugees, follow the “1 campaign” in Central Europe on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and support UNHCR with your own poster and screensaver downloadable here: http://www.unhcr-centraleurope.org/en/about-us/unhcr-events/world-refugee-day.html

And this is just the kick-off of the “1 campaign”…

Roland Schönbauer in Budapest, Hungary