UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today announced a new global campaign calling on people all over the world to cover the distance travelled by refugees each year.
The 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign will encourage people to support refugees by championing individual acts of solidarity. These acts, when taken together, acknowledge the resilience and strength of refugees.
UNHCR traced the journeys of refugees around the world and calculated that collectively, people forced to flee travel approximately two billion kilometres every year to reach the first point of safety. In 2016, Syrian refugees travelled more than 240 kilometres to reach Turkey. South Sudanese refugees travelled more than 640 kilometres to reach Kenya and Rohingya refugees in Myanmar travelled approximately 80 kilometres to reach Bangladesh.
The 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign invites people to act in solidarity and run, walk or cycle to achieve a cumulative total of two billion kilometres. Participants can use their fitness apps or the campaign website –www.stepwithrefugees.org– to log the kilometres and contribute to a global total.
“Every day, we are inspired by the acts of kindness from people who are doing their very best to improve life for refugees: the activists, the communities hosting refugees, businesses, donors, volunteers. This campaign will encourage people to support refugees through something they are already doing – walking, cycling, running,” said UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Kelly T. Clements. “At a time when we are facing so many misconceptions about refugees, it is vital that we remind ourselves of the real and dangerous journeys they are forced to take.”
In 2019, people in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, Central and North America, Europe and the Middle East will take part in the campaign, including individuals, celebrity supporters, refugees and UNHCR personnel. Participants can also seek sponsorship to raise funds. UNHCR hopes to raise over US$ 15 million to support refugees with registration and reception services, food and water, shelter, basic aid, healthcare and psychological support.
“Families forced to flee violence and persecution make extraordinary efforts to survive,” says UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller. “They are running for their lives, for a safe roof over their heads and a place where they don’t have to live in fear. This is why I’m stepping with refugees and taking part in the 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign. And I’m asking everyone to join me.”