UNHCR’s new 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign invites the public to step in solidarity with refugees

(Hong Kong, 29 January 2019) UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today announced a new global campaign calling on people all over the world to cover the distance travelled by refugees each year.

The 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign will encourage people to support refugees by championing individual acts of solidarity. These acts, when taken together, acknowledge the resilience and strength of refugees.

UNHCR traced the journeys of refugees around the world and calculated[1] that collectively, people forced to flee their homes travel approximately two billion kilometres every year to reach the first point of safety. In 2016, Syrian refugees travelled more than 240 kilometres to reach Turkey. South Sudanese refugees travelled more than 640 kilometres to reach Kenya while Rohingya refugees in Myanmar travelled approximately 80 kilometres to reach Bangladesh.

The 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign invites people to act in solidarity and run, walk or cycle to achieve a cumulative total of 2 billion kilometres. Participants can use their fitness apps or the campaign website – www.stepwithrefugees.org – to log the kilometres and contribute to a global total.

“Every day, we are inspired by the acts of kindness from people who are doing their very best to improve life for refugees: the activists, the communities hosting refugees, businesses, donors, volunteers. This campaign will encourage people to support refugees through something they are already doing – walking, cycling, running,” said UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Kelly T. Clements. “At a time when we are facing so many misconceptions about refugees, it is vital that we remind ourselves of the real and dangerous journeys they are forced to take.”

This year, people in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, Central and North America, Europe and the Middle East will take part in the campaign, including individuals, celebrity supporters, refugees and UNHCR personnel. Participants can also seek sponsorship to raise funds. UNHCR hopes to raise over US$ 15 million to support refugees with registration and reception services, food and water, shelter, basic aid, healthcare and psychological support.

“Families forced to flee violence and persecution make extraordinary efforts to survive,” said UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller. “They are running for their lives, for a safe roof over their heads and a place where they don’t have to live in fear. This is why I’m stepping with refugees and taking part in the 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign. And I’m asking everyone to join me.”

“For many of us in Hong Kong, refugee realities may seem distant from the peace and safety we enjoy every day,” said Sivanka Dhanapala, UNHCR’s Representative in China. “But the fact is that globally 68.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes and every day people are risking their lives to seek safety. I urge the people of Hong Kong to put their best foot forward and step up support for refugees through this meaningful campaign.”

Apart from UNHCR representatives, others endorsing the campaign include local celebrities and athletes such as Tony Hung, Stefan Wong, Chan Ka Ho, and Christy Yiu. In order to encourage the public to achieve the goal of 2 billion kilometres together, UNHCR will select the top five participants with the most kilometres reached, adding to the campaign every season by the end of March, June and September.  Selected participants will receive a limited edition personalised T-shirt.

To join the campaign, please visit the website: www.stepwithrefugees.org.

The 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign, a new global initiative put forward by UNHCR. Photo credits to UNHCR.

[1] Based on statistics in 2016

 

About UNHCR:

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.