Refugees and people facing situations of human mobility



Refugees and asylumseekers: These are persons who are outside their country of origin for reasons of feared persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or other circumstances that have disturbed public order and require international protection. The refugee definition can be found in the 1951 Convention and regional refugee instruments, as well as UNHCR’s Statute. (56).

Specific groups this Activity Box applies to

Refugees and asylum seekers: These are persons who are outside their country of origin for reasons of feared persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or other circumstances that have seriously disturbed public order and require international protection. (56)

Migrant: While there is no formal legal definition of an international migrant, most experts agree that an international migrant is someone who changes their country of usual residence, despite the reason for migration or legal status. (56)


  • The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 79.5 million in 2019, the highest level since the second world war
  • Worldwide, 30-34 million children and youth below 18 have been forced from their homes (57)
  • Altogether, over two-thirds of all refugees worldwide, 68%, come from just five countries, mainly: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar (57)
  • Since 1994, the IOC has provided more than US$5 million supporting UNHCR (59)

Why is it so important


  • The intersection of refugee groups and Sport is a key topic on the social agenda.
  • Rio 2016 Olympic Games permitted for the first time in history the participation of a team made of refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world.
  • Sport can be a powerful tool to assist families and individuals demobilized.
  •  Sport also allows an increase in the quality and quantity of Sport activities in refugee camps.
  •  When working with refugees and migrants, Sport is key in the prevention of xenophobic attitudes that threaten these vulnerable groups.

International endorsement:

In 2017, the IOC launched the Olympic Refuge Foundation to help create safe, accessible, organised ‘Sport for Protection’ projects that serve displaced, host and other vulnerable communities and aim to leave a sustainable legacy. (59)

Barriers to sport that should be overcome

  • Lack of facilities and Sport equipment.
  • Economic constraints in families.
  •  Xenophobia and other forms of discrimination against refugees and asylum seekers.

Tips and key success factors

  • Type of mobilization and zones of intervention: The different forms of human mobility and forced displacement should be understood before launching a Sport for All programme.
  • Local inhabitants should also be part of Sport for All programmes: Involving local residents is an outstanding vehicle to integrate refugees or asylum seekers and, therefore, to prevent xenophobic attitudes towards them.
  • Protected participants: Initiatives must be well designed and delivered – engaging both refugee and host communities – to build capacity and ensure that the learning is captured and translated into positive change. (60)
  • The role of Sport in refugee camps: Provides safe and accessible infrastructure for Sport and play, allows children to be children and to increase in resilience and social support.
  • Use trauma-sensitive approach in the activities: Working with refugees without having a basic notion of the current situation and needs of these groups can be a mistake.

Other tips:

  • Sport for All’, rather than competitive Sport should be the most important focus of Sport in refugee camps.
  • Local capacities: Refugees should be empowered to take an active role, to be coaches, facilitators and leaders.

Available resources

Sample case

Table of Peace Programme

(International Federation of Teqball – FITEQ)

  • The aim of the programme is to engage young people in sporting activities whilst also teaching them transferrable skills and key values
  • The initiative follows a successful long-standing partnership with Peace and Sport, where FITEQ has been part of the Live Together programme in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan


More information:

Video TEQBALL – Table of Peace Programme in Djibouti Ali Addeh Refugee Camp. Click Here