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UNHCR launches Christmas appeal for refugee kids

UNHCR launches Christmas appeal for refugee kids

The UN refugee agency launches its annual Star Appeal fund-raising campaign, hoping to surpass last year's total of US$560,000.
14 November 2007
Young Sudanese refugees get ready to enrol in school at a camp in Chad. The Star Appeal aims to help refugee children.

GENEVA, November 14 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency on Wednesday launched an annual Christmas fund-raising campaign aimed at providing shelter, succour and schooling for refugee children around the world.

The web-based Star Appeal is in its third year and UNHCR hopes to surpass the impressive total of US$560,000 that was raised last year. The campaign is also about drawing attention to the suffering and needs of millions of young refugees, including many separated from families, during the festive season.

"Our goal is to strike when the iron is hot - and there is no better time to fund-raise than during the holiday season," said Nick Van Praag, head of UNHCR's department of external relations.

Members of the public are invited to send donations through a special link on the UN refugee agency's website. People can make a gift in their own name or in the name of a friend. Donors receive a personalized certificate.

A small amount of money can go a long way. A donation of US$47 will purchase a survival kit for badly malnourished children; US$80 will buy a durable lightweight tent for a family of eight; US$125 will be enough for 25 blankets; and US$210 will pay the wages of a teacher for three months.

Funds raised will be used in operations around the world. Last year, the Star Appeal helped young refugees in Uganda's Nakivale Refugee Settlement, which is home to people from several African countries.

"We are very grateful to the donors. It's because of their support that we can do our programmes," Tim Ghelli, a UNHCR community services officer, said of the help received through the Star Appeal. "We would be forced to prioritize if it weren't for the extra help we receive. New arrivals couldn't be catered for - we couldn't cope with the extra burden," she added.

This year's appeal is being supported by John Dau, a former so-called "Lost Boy" of Sudan and subject of the documentary "God Grew Tired of Us." Dau, who says his basic education in a UNHCR-run camp transformed his life, has signed a letter calling on donors to support the Star Appeal.