The International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) Europe, a non-profit organisation established under the umbrella of the Doha-based ICSS, will collaborate with other international partners to launch a project aimed at supporting the integration of young refugees in Europe through sports.
This initiative comes amid a growing refugee crisis in Europe and around the world, recognising the urgent need for innovative solutions to some of the most pressing issues refugees face, local media reported.
“Sport plays an indisputable role to build bridges between communities, inspiring people and decision makers to overcome physical and cultural boundaries to foster social integration of refugees and ethnic minorities,” said National Olympic Committee of Portugal Director-General João Paulo Almeida.
“I believe CrosSport will deliver a comprehensive programme to build capacity of those engaged in this paramount challenge,”he added.
The “Crossing the Boundaries through Sport (CrosSport)” project will develop best practices on how to use sports as a tool of inclusion, and increase community participation of youth refugees through sports activities.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, Europe experienced an ongoing refugee crisis. Around 7.4 million refugees have fled Ukraine across Europe, while an estimated 8 million people have been displaced within the country as of 3 May, amounting to the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.
Last month, six Syrian refugees, including two infants and a child, were found dead on a migrant boat that arrived in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo, Italy, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) reported.
The UN agency said more than 1,200 people have died or vanished this year while trying to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe.
“When we presented our project proposal to the European Union, the world, Europe in particular, was looking very different,” said Massimiliano Montanari, chief executive of ICSS and Save the Dream initiative. “We were focusing mainly on refugee flows from the Middle East and North Africa towards Europe.”
However, this project will target all groups of refugees across Europe, including Ukrainian refugees.
“The power of sport remains the same and, jointly with our partners, Sevilla FC and Lazio SS foundations, IOTC, the European Union, and hopefully many others, we are determined to make the best possible use of it to alleviate the despair and the suffering refugees are exposed to,” he added.
The CrosSport project’s official launch took place during a project kick-off session held during the European Week of Sport in Lisbon, hosted by the National Olympic Committee of Portugal.
ICSS was established in 2010 and formally launched in March 2011, with a global mission to promote and protect the integrity and security of sport.