Cameroonian international professional footballer Alexandre Song has been a supporter of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency since 2017, and became a High Profile Supporter in 2018. Over the course of his career, Alex has played in some of the world’s most prestigious teams, including Arsenal, FC Barcelona, West Ham, Rubin Kazan, FC Sion, and the Cameroon National Team ‘Indomitable Lions.’ His global recognition within the sporting sphere makes him an influential advocate for refugee causes, and he has used his social media platforms to spread awareness and show solidarity with those forced to flee their homes. In 2019, Alex supported UNHCR campaigns for International Women’s Day, World Water Day and Step with Refugees by creating content and sharing it across his channels.
Recent field visits
Alex first visited urban refugees in the Cameroonian cities of Yaounde and Douala (where some 32,790 urban refugees are situated) with UNHCR in 2018. During his visit, Alex listened to refugees’ individual stories, joined in some friendly football matches and made personal donations. Alex reflected that, through his own humble beginnings, he is well-placed to understand the situation of refugees in his home country. “I have never lived in a refugee camp, but I have known misery. I know no matter where you come from, no matter the condition, there is always hope,” he said. “We can always build something. You can become somebody”.
Since then, Alex has visited more refugee sites in Cameroon, including the Borgop, Gado and Lolo sites in 2019. Here he took upon himself to support education for a refugee family (six children), whose story appealed to him. He also sensitised parents on the importance of sending children to school, especially young girls who are often victims of child marriages. “I implore you, send your children to school. Do not let anyone steal their childhood”.
In November 2019, Alex and UNHCR Cameroon organized a national football tournament dubbed, 'Alex Song’s Solidarity Games with Refugees', which brought together players and football enthusiasts from refugee and host communities in the country’s Far North, East and Adamawa regions, as well as those from the urban areas of Yaounde and Douala. The final match of the tournament was played in Yaounde on 21 December 2019. He also helped supply sports equipment to the young people taking part in the tournament, and awarded trophies to the winners. Thanks to the championship, two young refugee brothers from the Central African Republic who had lost contact with each other for years, were happily reunited, thus emphasising the aim of the tournament – bringing refugees together and promoting social cohesion among refugee and local populations.
His visits have been the subject of numerous local and international press articles, raising awareness of UNHCR’s work in the region. Alex spoke at a press conference to the national and international media about the refugee situation in Cameroon in December 2019.