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London Olympics gear up to help refugees

News Stories, 11 July 2011

© IOC/Richard Juilliart
IOC's Jacques Rogge (left) and LOCOG's Sir Keith Mills hand over a parcel of sports clothing to the UNHCR's Joyce Mends-Cole in Durban, South Africa.

DURBAN, South Africa, July 11 (UNHCR) As athletes around the world train to swim faster, jump higher, throw further in the run-up to next year's London Olympics, the event's organizers have also set a new target: To outdo themselves for the refugee cause.

Last Friday, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge launched the "Giving is Winning" campaign at the 123rd IOC Session in Durban, South Africa. The campaign aims to collect at least 100,000 items of sports and casual clothes for refugees and displaced people in UNHCR camps in various parts of the world.

Rogge and Sir Keith Mills, Deputy Chair of the London 2012 Olympic Games Organising Committee (LOCOG) started the ball rolling by handing over a parcel of sports clothes to UNHCR representative Joyce Mends-Cole during Friday's launch ceremony.

This campaign follows two successful editions during the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In Athens, 30,000 items of clothing, and in Beijing, 75,000 were donated by members and supporters of the Olympic family, such as athletes, National Olympic Committees, International Federations and sponsors. This positive trend is expected to continue for London 2012.

"This campaign is an excellent example of how sport can bring joy to people living very difficult lives, as well as to people who give," said IOC's Rogge. "Let's make a difference to the lives of thousands of men, women and children, just like sport has made a difference to our lives."

This is a fantastic programme and I am very proud that London 2012 will play its part in making 'Giving is Winning' a real success.

Sir Keith Mills
London 2012 Olympic Games Organising Committee

Sir Mills added, "This is a fantastic programme and I am very proud that London 2012 will play its part in making 'Giving is Winning' a real success. I have seen for myself the impact that sport can have on people's lives and it's fantastic that everyone involved in the Olympic Games, from athletes to sponsors, can help spread the Olympic spirit to people around the world."

The British Olympic Association (BOA) has already committed to joining the campaign, and many others have expressed their wish to be involved.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, who was visiting refugees in Ethiopia on Friday, said in a statement, "For many young refugees the gift of sportswear associated with famous athletes from across the Olympic spectrum is a tremendous morale booster a sign that the outside world does still care."




Giving is Winning

Athletes donate sports clothes and equipment.

International Olympic Committee

UNHCR and the International Olympic Committee have worked together for years.

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

The World's Stateless: A photo essay by Greg Constantine

Nationality might seem like a universal birthright, but it is estimated that up to 12 million people around the world are struggling to get along without it. They do not possess a nationality nor enjoy its legal benefits. They fall into a legal limbo; they are stateless. This often leaves them unable to do the basic things most people take for granted such as registering the birth of a child, travelling, going to school, opening a bank account or owning property.

Statelessness has a variety of causes. Some populations were excluded from citizenship at the time of independence from colonial rule. Others fall victim to mass denationalization. In some countries, women cannot confer nationality on their children. Sometimes, because of discrimination, legislation fails to guarantee citizenship for certain ethnic groups.

The problem is global. Under its statelessness mandate, UNHCR is advising stateless people on their rights and assisting them in acquiring citizenship. At the government level, it is supporting legal reform to prevent people from becoming stateless. With partners it undertakes citizenship campaigns to help stateless people to acquire nationality and documentation.

Photographer Greg Constantine is an award-winning photojournalist from the United States. In 2005, he moved to Asia and began work on his project, "Nowhere People," which documents the plight of stateless people around the world. His work has received a number of awards, including from Pictures of the Year International, NPPA Best of Photojournalism, the Amnesty International Human Rights Press Awards (Hong Kong), the Society of Publishers in Asia, and the Harry Chapin Media Award for Photojournalism. Greg was a co-winner of the Osborn Elliot Prize for Journalism in Asia, presented annually by the Asia Society. Work from "Nowhere People" has been widely published and exhibited in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Switzerland, Ukraine, Hong Kong and Kenya. He is based in Southeast Asia.

The World's Stateless: A photo essay by Greg Constantine