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.


Sport for Refugees Coalition

Established following the first Global Refugee Forum in 2019 and co-convened by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF) and the Scort Foundation, the Sport for Refugees Coalition brings together more than 80 entities from the world of sport, civil society, public and private sectors to extend access to sport to displaced and stateless people around the world.

Coalition members have all signed up to one or more of the following pledges presented at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum:

  • To promote and ensure access for all refugees, without distinction of any kind, to safe and inclusive sporting facilities.
  • To increase availability and access to organized sports and sport-based initiatives for refugee and hosting communities, actively considering age, gender, ability and other diversity needs.
  • To promote and facilitate equal access to and participation of refugees in sporting events and competitions at all levels.

The Sport for Refugees Coalition provides a platform for members to connect with others involved in sport with and for displaced and stateless persons, to share and learn from good practices, and acts as a focal point for joint communication and advocacy efforts promoting sport as an essential tool in displacement settings.

Looking forward to the second Global Refugee Forum in December 2023, a refreshed Joint Sport Pledge will be developed and Sport for Refugees Coalition members are encouraged to engage in the process of creating the pledge. Once it has been developed, Coalition members and other interested actors will also be invited to sign up.

Coalition members benefit from regular opportunities to share knowledge, learn, connect and work as part of a community to support displaced and stateless persons through sport, all the while contributing to the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees.

To find out more, contact: [email protected]

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This section was developed in partnership with UNHCR.

Co-covenors of the Sport for Refugees Coalition

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