UNHCR and business partners give refugee kids a voice through ninemillion.org campaign
DAVOS, Switzerland, January 24 (UNHCR) - UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres on Wednesday briefed participants at the annual World Economic Forum on an innovative way to give voice to many of the world's millions of refugee children.
Addressing international media executives at an opening luncheon for the meeting in Davos, Guterres said the aim of the ninemillion.org (www.ninemillion.org) campaign was to help raise awareness for the world's nine million refugee children and provide them with greater access to education and sport programmes.
The campaign was launched in June last year by UNHCR and corporate 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 marginalised 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," added the High Commissioner, who was joined by the Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars in promoting the campaign in Davos.
ninemillion.org is a flagship initiative of the UNHCR Council of Business Leaders. Launched in Davos in 2005, the council 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.
Since its kick-off, the ninemillion.org campaign has attracted some two million visitors and raised approximately US$1.5 million.
Already, education and sport projects are being implemented with non-governmental organisations 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 sports 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 click4acause.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.
Proof that refugees can become a source of creativity and support to those who shelter them from war, the All Stars are using their album, "Living Like a Refugee," to raise awareness and funds for the ninemillion.org campaign.