Varsity, UNHCR hold relay race to mark Refugee Day - GulfToday

Varsity, UNHCR hold relay race to mark Refugee Day


Relay racers at the NYUAD’s indoor running track on Thursday. The race attracted 143 participants.

Abu Dhabi’s (NYUAD) Office of Social Responsibility and Gulf Multi Sport, in collaboration with UNHCR - The UN Refugee Agency and Gulf Multi Sport, organised a relay race in recognition of World Refugee  Day. Held at NYUAD’s indoor running track on June 20, the relay race attracted 143 participants, who surpassed the target of collectively running 409km in 12 hours in honour of Eva, a nine-year-old refugee who travelled 409km in 12 days, as she fled from South Sudan to Ethiopia on her own.

Individuals and teams from NYUAD and the broader Abu Dhabi community took part in this achievement, including NYUAD Emirati Alumni team, NYUAD student team, Abu Dhabi’s  running community, Abu Dhabi Striders, Special Olympics athletes, and the US Embassy team, among others, in support of the global UNHCR #StepWithRefugees campaign.

UNHCR Officer in Charge in the UAE Ayat El Dewary said, “We appreciate the efforts made and support given by faculty, staff and students at New York University Abu Dhabi  for hosting this event today coinciding with World Refugee Day. It is a great opportunity to encourage individual acts of solidarity with those who were forcibly displaced and to acknowledge their strength and resilience.”

NYUAD recognises significant events like the World Refugee Day, and always makes sure to organise initiatives that support humanitarian organisations and encourage UAE  residents to lead an active, healthy lifestyle.

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and science campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi  has integrated a highly-selective liberal arts, engineering and science curriculum with a world centre for advanced research and scholarship enabling its students to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s  shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from 120 nations and speak over 120 languages. Together, NYU’s campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities  to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.

 UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We deliver life-saving assistance  like shelter, food and water, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. We also work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality.

Across the world there are currently over 65 million people who have had to leave their homes. Some have settled in new countries; many more are living in refugee camps, waiting for it to be safe enough to go home or to be resettled in a different country.

The United Nations decided that refugees should have a special day, when we think of them and show our support. The first World Refugee Day was on 20 June 2001 and it’s been celebrated every year since then.

A refugee crisis

Sixty-five million people means that nearly one in 100 people in the world is a displaced person or refugee. We are now facing the worst refugee crisis in history. The number of refugees has doubled in the last twenty years. The situation is clearly worse in some countries than in others. Fifty-five per cent of refugees worldwide come from Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan. Since the start of the war, more than 5.6 million Syrians have escaped the country and 6.1 million are still living in Syria but have had to leave their homes. Around half of these 11 million people are children.

A refugee crisis on this scale is difficult to deal with, but the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, reminds us that ‘the problems are war and hatred, not people who flee.’ World Refugee Day is about raising awareness of the situation and showing the refugees that together we can work to end the crisis and help displaced people to find safe and happy homes.


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