Peace and Sport, the global initiative set up in 2007 by Olympian Joël Bouzou, will soon be operating within refugee camps around the world.
The former modern pentathlon world champion told insidethegames that projects already running in troubled countries such as Haiti, East Timor and Colombia would soon be supplemented by sporting initiatives in refugee camps intended to bring young people together through sport.
“These are things that can be arranged in refugee camps also,” Bouzou said.
“We have not started with refugee camps for the moment, but we are looking at specific approaches for refugee camps – that’s one of the goals of this year.
“We have particular camps in mind, but it is too early to talk about it for the moment.
“But what is a refugee camp?
“It’s a place where people will stay temporarily, but you can see now that there are refugee camps where people have been for 20, 25 years, so it’s not something which is temporary.
“It is a place where poverty is the main feature, and the lack of hygiene, and a lot of problems, and yet there are sports solutions to change a little bit the lives for these people and to bring some rules to kids where there are very few rules which apply.”
Refugees in Haiti have benefited recently from the actions of former Olympic 200 and 400 metres champion Marie-José Pérec, who ran the New York Marathon in November to raise funds for the Peace and Sport project established in the country which was devastated by an earthquake in 2010.
Pérec is one of 70 Champions for Peace, some but not all of whom are Olympians, who have contributed to fund-raising for Peace and Sport.
“We are operating in 10 countries for the moment,” Bouzou added.
“But our goal is not to operate everywhere.
“Our goal is to demonstrate some pilot programmes that solutions exist.
“Our goal is to convince the Governments that they have to use sport as a solution.
“And to convince the sports that they can be authorities for peace by using sport sometimes in a directed way.
“If we do that we grow the performance of the movement, because we grow the actions, but we don’t run the actions.
“But a country where sport is very developed is a country which has less social problems.
“The Russians know very well about this.
“That’s why in 2012 we launched a global programme of social cohesion through sport, and it is running in all the regions in Russia.
“It was signed in Sochi during the Peace and Sport forum organised there in 2012, and this was a programme started by the Russian Ministry of Sport especially for the use of the difficult suburbs.
“They started this programme to use sport as a tool for social cohesion.
“They have their policy on that, and they are planning on scientific studies that were showing that where violence was existing sport solutions were reducing the violence, and so it was very seriously done.
“And so organising the Sochi Olympics after that is very interesting because you are reinforcing the message inside and I guess that’s what they are doing and I hope that it will result in further sport clubs in the future.”
This article is republished with the permission of insidethegames.biz. The original story can be found by clicking: http://www.insidethegames.biz/news/1018664-exclusive-peace-and-sport-targeting-refugee-camps-for-new-sporting-projects