07 November 2019
Ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new sports facility built thanks to the Fondazione Milan. On the field dozens of young refugees evacuated to Niger from Libyan detention centers. In the presence of the actor Raz Degan
Today marks the opening of the sports complex built by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and funded by the Fondazione Milan. Thanks to the Foundation's generous support, a football field, a volleyball court and a basketball court have been built and made available to refugees evacuated from Libya to Niger. The centre was inaugurated in the presence of Rocco Giorgianni, Secretery-General of the Fondazione Milan. The ceremony also saw the exceptional participation of the Israeli actor, Raz Degan, who kicked off the first football match to be played at the centre in a show of solidarity with the refugees.
The construction of the sports facilities comes under the auspices of the project "Sport as Therapy", a UNHCR and Fondazione Milan joint initiative dedicated to refugees coming from the Horn of Africa who have been evacuated from detention centres in Libya. These people are mostly highly vulnerable youth whohave undergone violence and torture. The goal of the initiative is to allow them to participate in sports activities with a therapeutic purpose aimed at overcoming their trauma. Indeed, many among them are deeply traumatised, and so the programme aims to help them, through sport, to socialize and regain confidence and self-esteem.
"UNHCR is deeply grateful to the Fondazione Milan for its fundamental support over the last 10 years - said Alessandra Morelli, UNHCR Representative in Niger -. From the funding of a sports-related project in Lebanon to the commitment to the education of Syrian children, the impact has been remarkable, concrete and tangible. You only have to look into these children's eyes to understand how important sport is to them. Through it, they can try to put their traumatic experiences behind them, and to socialize and develop their potential as human beings."
"The collaboration with UNHCR has been a great opportunity for the Fondazione Milan - said Rocco Giorgianni, Secretery-General of the Fondazione Milan -. Besides making many kids happy, being able to implement sport and education-related projects shows how important these elements are for social and personal development even in the context of humanitarian emergencies."
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by basketball and football tournaments, involving dozens of young refugees. Since the end of 2017, Niger has cooperated with UNHCR on the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM), a programme aimed at providing lifesaving assistance through the temporary evacuation of refugees from Libyan detention centers pending transfer to third countries.
UNHCR has already evacuated more than 5,000 refugees from Libya, including nearly 3,000 to Niger.
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