The signing ceremony took place at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur. Speaking at the ceremony, AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John said: “The AFC is delighted to work with UNHCR to have a real, positive impact on lives across Asia. Football is a powerful tool for social development and it is our responsibility to spread the joy of the beautiful game as wide as possible.
“The plight of displaced people is distressing and affects the whole continent. Working with established humanitarian organisations like the UNHCR, and with our new AFC Dream Asia Foundation, I am sure we will see our efforts bear fruit, to the benefit of refugees across Asia.”
Richard Towle, UNHCR Representative in Malaysia, said: “Refugees often remain invisible in society. As the UNHCR looks to find ways to make their plight visible, we are excited to partner with the Asian Football Confederation, an international football organisation with integrity and credibility.
“Football can help refugees connect with their host countries, giving them visibility and purpose, in addition to providing health and educational benefits.”
The cooperation agreement between the AFC and the UNHCR is based on the organisations’ vision statements and objectives. The first joint pilot project under the agreement will support the Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.
UNHCR Malaysia hopes to provide refugees with an avenue to participate in programmes which promote their self-reliance, empowerment and social inclusion.
The objective of the AFC, which signed an international MoU with UNHCR last December, is to undertake effective social responsibility campaigns and promote the game of football and its unifying educational, cultural and humanitarian values.