Chelsea FC star John Obi Mikel lends support to World Refugee Day campaign19 June 2015

TheNigerian-bornChelseaFCfootballerJohnObiMikelisamong20celebritiesthatin2015aregivingvoicetoaUnitedNationscampaigntospreadawarenessabouttheWorldRefugeeDay andtheplightoftheforciblydisplaced.

The initiative consists of a series of 30 second videos supporting refugees and raising awareness of the challenges and deprivations endured by refugees worldwide.

In 2014, the player also participated in a video campaign for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) supporting refugee families and asking the public to show solidarity by sharing their stories.

As football is increasingly used as a distraction from the strains of life for refugees, initiatives across Europe will also mark the day.

On 21 June the Scottish Unity Football League is organising the Refugee Football Tournament, using the game as a means of promoting anti-discrimination, allowing people to mix and providing an opportunity for all to play football regardless of race, religion, nationality, age, sexual orientation or any other factor.

The one-day event will bring together local and refugee communities to play football, meet each other and help refugees feel that they are welcomed in Scotland.

In Rome, Italy, a series of football matches organised by the Fondazione Mondo Digitale are looking to further a culture of respect and inclusion for migrants in the country.

Welsh Fare member Zimbabwe Newport Volunteering Association is running the 6th edition of the Refuge Week Football tournament on Saturday 20 June. Food, dance and cultural displays will also be held throughout the day engaging participants in finding out more about other cultures.

On Sunday, 21 June, Fare member in Ireland SARI will also organise their sixth annual World Refugee Day Fair Play Cup to celebrate the contributions of refugees in Irish communities and for the general public to learn more about refugees.

The 7-a-side tournament will feature teams – both men’s and women’s – drawn from refugee and community groups, direct provision centres, NGOs and members of the media. Approximately 200 players from a host of different countries, including Angola, South Africa, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Vietnam and Ireland, will take part.

Other entertainment at the free event will include face painting, football skills training, music, and children’s circus provided by Dublin Community Circus.

In Germany, the FA and Bundesliga ongoing campaign ‘Cross out prejudice‘ will see activities organised in line with the campaigns goals of promoting creating a welcoming culture for refugees in German society through football.

UN observance day
For years many countries and regions have been holding their own Refugee Days and Weeks.

The first World Refugee Day was marked on 20 June 2001 on the 50th nniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees to honour the courage, strength and determination of millions of refugees worldwide that have been forced to flee their homes due to war or persecution.

The UNHCR annual Global Trends Report: World at War, released on Thursday (18 June), said that worldwide displacement was at the highest level ever recorded. The number of people forcibly displaced at the end of 2014 had risen to 59.5 million compared to 51.2 million in 2013 and 37.5 million a decade ago.

The increase represents the biggest leap ever seen in a single year and the report said the situation was likely to worsen still further.

Globally, one in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. If this were the population of a country, it would be the world’s 24th biggest.

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