Messi and Neymar back UNHCR campaign for refugees



Wed, 14 Jun 2017 - 06:33 GMT


Wed, 14 Jun 2017 - 06:33 GMT



CAIRO – 14 June 2017: Ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched Tuesday the


campaign for refugee children in collaboration with FC Barcelona Foundation. The campaign will star a number of top soccer players across the world including Lionel Messi and Neymar, according to the official UNHCR website.

“I am proud to be part of this important initiative to support refugees, I hope it will help change the dramatic situation that millions of refugee children around the world are currently experiencing,” said Messi.

Promoting refugees’ rights to safe shelter, education and livelihood, the campaign was launched with participation from international civil society groups, sports organizations and humanitarian agencies. The event witnessed Barcelona strikers signing a ball in support of refugees. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the plight of 65.3 million men, women and children around the world driven from their homes by violence or persecution, half of whom are children.

A special international forum on Wednesday to rally support will include Barcelona strikers signing a ball in support of refugees, according to the FC Barcelona Foundation website.


Paulo Amotun Lokoro, a refugee from South Sudan, attended the launch event and described how his life was changed by sports as he competed in the 1,500 meters at the 2016 Olympic Games as part of the first ever Refugee Olympic Team. Lokoro fled fighting in South Sudan 2006 to Kenya and became a track and field athlete specialized in the 1,500 meters event.

“I strongly believe that sport is a foundation for peace,” said Lokoro.


This campaign is part of a larger world movement #withRefugees launched by UNHCR in 2016. The initiative included a campaign and petition that enables people to show their solidarity with refugees who were forced to leave their homes and countries.

The #withRefugees petition aims to put pressure on governments to work together and respond to the needs of refugees around the world by ensuring that every refugee child gets education, every refugee family has somewhere safe to live and every refugee can work or learn new skills to support their families.

World leaders are expected to convene in 2018 to agree on a more just approach to managing the refugee crisis; this petition serves as a means to voice the needs of refugees.

At the time of writing, more than 1.5 million people have already signed the petition.

During the launch event, the FC Barcelona Foundation announced the implementation of its FutbolNet program in refugee reception centers in Greece, Italy and Lebanon starting in July. The foundation said the program aims to use sports to improve social skills and promote conflict prevention and resolution among refugee children and adolescents, enhancing their emotional well-being and fostering their social inclusion in host countries.

About The FC Barcelona Foundation
The Foundation was created in 1994 to carry out the corporate social responsibility of FC Barcelona. Its projects are based on the sharing of values to children through sports, in Catalonia and around the world. It currently has more than 700,000 beneficiaries in more than 50 countries. Since 2006, FC Barcelona has provided 0.7 percent of its revenue to its Foundation to implement various projects. Since 2010, the players and coaches of the club’s professional sections have donated 0.5 percent of their salaries to the Foundation.



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