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Refugees Win As Result Of UN-Backed Initiative

Refugees Win As Result Of UN-Backed Initiative On Olympic Clothing

Thousands of refugees in Asia will continue to be inspired by the heroism of athletes at the Beijing Olympics, even though the curtain has fallen on the Games, thanks to a United Nations-backed campaign in which competitors donated their surplus sportswear.

Some 30,000 pieces of sportswear – mainly from the National Olympic Committees of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and China – were donated during the Games, bringing the total collected so far in the “Giving is Winning” programme, run jointly by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), to 82,000.

“For the refugees, these are not only useful items of clothing, but a symbol that people in the world beyond the refugee camps – especially famous athletes from the Olympics – care about them,” said Veerapong Vongvarotai, UNHCR regional representative in China.

Every athlete’s room in the Olympic Village contained biodegradable plastic bags to allow them to make contributions, which poured in from competitors from teams both large and small, including Andorra, Armenia, Bermuda, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mauritius and Turkmenistan.

The clothing received prior to the start of the Games was distributed to refugees in Rwanda, Tanzania, Chad, Moldova, Georgia and Panama, while the latest donations are headed for Asia.

The “Giving is Winning” campaign, which will run until the end of the year, originally started during the 2004 Athens Olympics, during which 30,000 articles of clothing were collected to inspire young refugees in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Eritrea, Kosovo and Tanzania.

ENDS

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