Call for articles: How can sport better respond to forced displacement?
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How can actors using sport better respond to crises such as the conflict in Ukraine? UNHCR, the Sport for Refugees Coalition and sportanddev want to hear from you.

Deadline extended till 21 November. 

The number of refugees and internally displaced people worldwide continues to grow. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, estimates that 89.3 million people were forcibly displaced by the end of 2021, a figure larger than the population of Türkiye.

After that figure was published, in February 2022 the conflict in Ukraine began. By May, UNHCR estimated that at least 10 million Ukrainians had been forced to flee their homes, causing issues related to the well-being of refugees and internally displaced people to hit global headlines again.

Sports organisations have played a role in the response, providing knowledge, resources and opportunities. They have, for example, provided transport and accommodation, advocated on refugee issues and provided funding for projects working with Ukrainian refugees.

While sport actors were active when large numbers of refugees reached Europe in 2015-2016, the response to the Ukraine crisis has been larger and better coordinated, and it has drawn on a wider base of evidence, tools and approaches.

Sport and refugees: A global issue

At the same time, issues concerning forcibly displaced people remain important worldwide, and not only in Europe. Global figures are compiled at the end of each year, meaning that the impact of Ukraine on them is not yet calculated; however, at the end of 2021, the countries hosting the highest number of refugees were Türkiye, Colombia and Uganda. While attention is often focused on refugees seeking to enter Europe, most of the world’s refugees are hosted in the Global South – with protracted crises in and from countries such as Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Venezuela, South Sudan and many more.

Sport-based projects have been supporting refugees and internally displaced people for decades, particularly on social inclusion, social cohesion and psychosocial support, while the response to the conflict in Ukraine shows the impact the sports world can have when actors work together.

The sports world already has a strong presence within countries and at global level, which creates the potential to move from ad-hoc actions to a more systematic approach. Sports organisations can also mobilise funds, reach a wide audience, provide expertise and personnel for programmes, influence decision makers and provide infrastructure such as stadiums, transport and accommodation.

Of course, sport-based approaches do not automatically improve the lives of displaced persons. Initiatives need to be intentionally and carefully designed, delivered and evaluated – including with the very populations they seek to serve.

Call for articles

UNHCR, the Sport for Refugees Coalition and sportanddev are calling for articles from the global sport community and those who work with the forcibly displaced. We encourage contributors to address any (or all) of the following key questions:

  • What role can the different parts of the sport ecosystem* play in refugee situations?
  • What needs to change for the sport ecosystem to achieve its full potential to support refugees and host communities? What is the one fix that would make a difference?
  • What are some key actions/changes required to realise the potential role of sport in collectively responding to refugee situations globally?

*By sport ecosystem, we don’t only mean sports organisations but any organisation using sport in their work, including sport for development organisations and humanitarian actors.

The articles will be published on the sportanddev website. They will feed into a:

  • Week of Action from 28 November - 2 December 2022
  • Global interactive webinar on 1 December

The Week of Action aims to build the capacity of organisations working with refugees, raise awareness of sport’s role in the prevention of and responses to forced displacements; and promote coordination across the sport ecosystem.

These articles will also be used to inform an outcome document which will be shared to strengthen the case for sport for refugees. It will also feed into pledges for the upcoming Global Refugee Forum in 2023. Find out more here on the pledges from the sporting world to help young refugees discover their potential through sports at the first-ever Global Refugee Forum held in 2019.  


Deadline: 21 November 2022.

Articles should:

  • Be 500-1,000 words long
  • Include a relevant photo in landscape (horizontal) orientation, for which you own the copyright, or is subject to some form of creative commons licence. The photo must be accompanied with a credit and caption. If you do not have a picture, we will attempt to source one.
  • Include a 1-2 sentence biography of the author(s)
  • Include links to any Twitter or Facebook accounts you would like associated with the post
  • Include links to any websites you would like associated with the post
  • Not be promotional or press releases but rather share learning for the broader field

For more information, see our article guidelines in English and French.

This year’s Week of Action builds on Weeks of Action that took place in 2020 and 2021, and it is part of a partnership between UNHCR and sportanddev. For more information on using sport in work with refugees please visit the UNHCR website and sportanddev’s website section on the topic.


Operating Team


South Sudan
Middle East
Latin America and the Caribbean
Does not apply
Sustainable Development Goals
16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions.
Target Group
Displaced people

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