Why Sports is uniting young refugees in Dadaab, Kenya

(In Caps) Rex, an International UN Volunteer with UNHCR in Kenya, and the Japanese Ambassador, H.E. Toshitsugu Uesawa — presenting a donation of footballs to Hagadera Youth Select Team as the winners

On 24th of April 2017, the Japanese Ambassador to Kenya, His Excellency Toshitsugu Uesawa, visited Dadaab Refugee Camps and donated footballs and soccer uniforms to youth soccer teams as part of supporting refugee youth sports interventions under their “Sports for Tomorrow” initiative which was announced by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2013. This initiative goes a long way in supporting refugee sports in view of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games which will be hosted by Japan.

Sports provides a much needed opportunity for the society to think differently about refugees in the light of the current crisis and beyond that to see them as persons with ambitions, dreams, and capable of great achievements if empowered and given an opportunity.

Most often refugees cannot speak the language of the host country for many different reasons and are faced with difficulties to effectively integrate into local communities, but sports offers such a language; a universal language of values; values of respect, dignity, diversity, equality, tolerance and fairness, which contribute to combating all forms of discrimination and promote youth social inclusion, peace building and peaceful coexistence among the youths in the refugee set up and protracted areas. This form part of the core values for positive behaviour change which I cherish in engaging the youths in the camps as part of my programing to work with and for young people in Dadaab refugee camps.

Dadaab Refugee Camps have a total of 277 youth soccer teams engaged in various sports disciplines; from football, volleyball and athletics. These teams are managed by the coaches and a well-structured elective Youth Sports Committees established at each camp which are headed by the Sports Chairpersons and supervised by the overall Camp Youth Chairmen at each camp level.

Rex Laissezfaire Mlotha, IUNV — Associate Community Services — Youth Officer — UNHCR — Dadaab

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