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Sport and refugees

Copyrights: Swiss Academy for Development

Sport and refugees

How can sport be used to address challenges that people affected by displacement face? This section provides advice, guidance, tools and resources.

According to the UNHCR, by mid-2022 103 million people had been forced to flee their homes, with 72% originating from just five countries, the Syrian Arab Republic, Venezuela, Ukraine, Afghanistan and South Sudan. At the end of 2021, 41% of the world’s forcibly displaced were below the age of 18.

There is a need for broader societal action to address the challenges faced by those whose lives have been uprooted by conflict or persecution, and the communities that generously continue to host them. Sport can play a major part in this. Around the world, organisations are using sport to provide safety and security, enhance well-being, include the marginalised and work towards more cohesive societies.

Sport has the ability to break down cultural barriers, improve physical and mental wellbeing and create opportunities for positive social interaction. However, simply delivering sports activities does not automatically mean the achievement of positive outcomes. Initiatives must be well designed and delivered – engaging both refugee and host communities – to build capacity and ensure that the learning is captured and translated into positive change.

This section is meant for organisations who currently use, or aim to use, sport in their work with refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). It provides background on the topic, information and links to key resources, and guidance and advice on some of the key considerations when working with displaced communities.

The section was first published in September 2020 during the first Week of Action on Sport and Refugees