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Refugees in Tanzania gear up for Olympics

Refugees in Tanzania gear up for Olympics

More than 20,000 refugees at Lukole camp are benefiting from new sports clothing and equipment donated by the United States Olympic Committee under the "Giving is Winning" campaign launched by the International Olympic Committee and UNHCR.
20 July 2004
Some members of the Lukole camp women's netball team in their new T-shirts.

LUKOLE CAMP, Tanzania, July 20 (UNHCR) - The Olympics may still be weeks away, but refugees in Tanzania are already gearing up for the big event, thanks to a donation drive by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the UN refugee agency.

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) recently became the first national Olympic committee to join the "Giving is Winning" campaign that will be officially launched at the Athens Olympic Games, which runs from August 13-29.

The USOC donated 500 new T-shirts, 100 sweatshirts and various sports equipment including volleyballs and volleyball nets to refugees at Lukole camp in north-western Tanzania. More than 20,000 refugees, mostly young people, are expected to benefit from the contribution.

Soon after the donation was distributed in early June, refugees could be seen donning their new gear. The boys' acrobatic team leapt, flipped and spun in their new clothes while the girls' netball team tested their new equipment immediately.

The boys' acrobatic team performing in their new gear.

"This campaign shows solidarity with forgotten refugee youth," said UNHCR coordinator Claude Marshall. "Wearing the Olympic clothes of a donating country could bring joy and pride to the refugees' dismal lives."

In all, some 16,000 athletes and coaches living at the Olympic Village in Athens during the Games are expected to be involved in the "Giving is Winning" campaign. Donations will go to internally displaced people in Kosovo, returnees in Afghanistan and refugees in Kenya's Dadaab camp.

Since 1995, IOC has worked with UNHCR in refugee camps and resettlement areas in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. Projects include those that offer structured sport and recreational activities for refugee children whose social bearings have been destroyed by war and conflict.