Creating Safe Spaces: Safeguarding practices in sport activities in the context of displacement
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The roundtable explored the challenges and good practices in safeguarding children and youth who attend sport-based activities, in the context of displacement. At the end of the discussion, five safeguarding recommendations emerged, and several resources were shared.

In the run-up to the Global Refugee Forum, the Sport for Refugees Coalition recently hosted its second roundtable, focusing on protection and safeguarding practices in sport. The event convened representatives from sport-based organisations to discuss the challenges, and recommendations for improving safeguarding practices when implementing sport-based activities for displaced and host communities.

Why child safeguarding matters

During the discussion, attendees emphasised the importance of ensuring the safety of children, particularly in displacement contexts, while highlighting some substantial challenges that persist. Among these challenges are the infiltration of abusers into organisations, the absence of accessible channels for children to report abuse, a culture of fear that discourages individuals from reporting their concerns, and instances where organisations prioritise their interests over the welfare of children.

Unfortunately, the very organisations that are supposed to protect children can inadvertently harbour those who abuse them. Statistics confirm that 90% of child abuse cases including both physical, emotional and other forms of exploitation, involve trusted perpetrators of children, often within the organisations set up to support them. The most vulnerable children are those most at risk and often have no one to turn to in instances of abuse.

Practical approaches to safeguarding


Responding to the above questions, attendees delved into strategies for safeguarding children and youth while utilising sports as a protective measure in displacement context. They emphasised the crucial role of fostering active participation and ownership of policies and procedures among all stakeholders, including children and their families. Additionally, attendees underlined the importance of promoting inclusivity and cultural sensitivity within these activities.

Furthermore, ensuring the safety of children from online harm was raised as equally important when it comes to safeguarding children. It was noted that negative online experiences can be as detrimental as those in the physical world.

Recommendations for safeguarding children in sports

It was recommended that in order to incorporate safeguarding mechanisms within sport activities in the challenging context of displacement, five actions should be prioritised:

  1. Undertake a comprehensive risk assessment: systematically evaluate and analyse potential risks and threats that could harm or endanger children's well-being, safety, and development.
  2. Develop policies and Codes of Conducts: These processes define acceptable behaviour within the organisation.
  3. Procedures for responding: Establish clear procedures for responding to safeguarding incidents.
  4. Communication and training: Communicate standards to children and youth,and provide training to staff.
  5. Change the culture: Foster a culture of respect and challenge any violations, no matter how minor they may seem.

Tools and Resources

A variety of tools and resources are available to organisations working in displacement context to ensure effective child safeguarding in sports activities.

If you would like to learn more about the Sport for Refugees Coalition, the upcoming Global Refugee Forum and ways to your organization could contribute, please get in touch at [email protected].


A special thank you to Bassam Al Ali, Senior Child Protection Technical Officer at Terre des Hommes Foundation and Zainab Hussaini, Country Manager for Skateistan for moderating the discussions. We also thank Amanda Louise Melville, Child Protection Officer at UNHCR and Maria Bray, Global Advisor on child protection and MHPSS for their valuable contributions.

These recommendations and learnings would not be possible without the participation and contributions from the following organisations:

[Main image: Global Activity Locations: A Graph of attendees’ responses to 'In Which Countries Do You Conduct Activities?']


All Countries
All Regions
All Sports
Sustainable Development Goals
3 - Good Health and Well-Being
Target Group

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