Following the announcement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) earlier this month of the composition of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Tokyo 2020, the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF) is marking World Refugee Day by celebrating the launch of a new sport-for-protection programme in Colombia.
Called “Ven y Juega” (Come and Play), the new Protection and Social Cohesion through Sport programme aims to improve social cohesion among young refugees and migrants from Venezuela, and their host communities, as well as internally displaced and returning Colombians.
The situation in Venezuela continues to be one of the largest crises in the world, with 5.6 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants living abroad and 4.7 million of them in Latin America and the Caribbean. Earlier this year, in a gesture of solidarity, the Government of Colombia announced it would grant a ten-year Temporary Protection Status (TPS) to the more than 1.74 million Venezuelans in its territory.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) considers their needs to be immediate. With the spread of COVID-19 in Colombia and across the region, many displaced people from Venezuela, as well as local communities, struggle to survive as they face worsening poverty, job losses, evictions, hunger, and a lack of food and access to medical treatment.
Designed in partnership with UNHCR and together with local partners, the programme seeks to help displaced young people cope with the risks inherent to their vulnerable situations by increasing access to safe sport, providing a curriculum of activities that foster social cohesion and peaceful co-existence, and supplying tools to enhance community-based protection mechanisms.