Refugee children winners in FC Barcelona Manchester City football game – UN

24 August 2009Refugee children were the winners in last week’s highly anticipated match-up between top football teams Manchester City and FC Barcelona, with the latter’s members sporting jerseys emblazoned with the logo of a campaign backed by the United Nations refugee agency. The MÉS campaign – an alliance between the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), FC Barcelona and Nike – was launched last year to raise money for sports and education projects for young and vulnerable refugees. More than 94,000 fans turned out for the 19 August pre-season 44th Joan Gamper Trophy, named after the founder of the Spanish team. By wearing the jerseys, FC Barcelona players, who lost to Manchester City, of the English Premier League, 1-0, sought to raise awareness of the plight of the 42 million forcibly displaced people around the world, more than half of whom were receiving protection of assistance from UNHCR at the end of last year. The club’s partnership with the UN agency “is what makes us different from our competitors,” said FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta. “It means commitment and solidarity, and Barcelona’s solidarity is now a reality.” Only 1,899 – corresponding to the year the team was founded – of the new jerseys will be produced, and those worn by the players in last week’s game will be auctioned off next month to raise more funds for UNHCR projects worldwide. Last year, FC Barcelona signed a three-year agreement to assist UNHCR’s “ninemillion.org” campaign to reach its goal of providing education, sport and technology to all refugee children by 2010. read more

Kerry tells Committee US endorsed democratic progress in Sri Lanka

The US Government is seeking the approval of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for approximately $50 billion in the 2017 budget for foreign affairs. The United States said that in 2015, the US Government strongly endorsed democratic progress in Sri Lanka.US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking spoke before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the State Departments FY2017 budget, said that important democratic gains have been witnessed in, among other places, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and Burma. Over the course of his testimony Secretary Kerry outlined how this funding supports the State Department’s and other development and national security agencies’ efforts to tackle transnational challenges ranging from countering violent extremism, nuclear proliferation, global health, cyber warfare, and widespread migration caused by conflict and instability.Secretary Kerry also pointed to areas where the State Department and its partners are working to leverage opportunities created by unprecedented international coordination on issues like climate change and trade. (Colombo Gazette) “Our diplomatic priorities include support for human rights and the continued evolution of an open and democratic political process in Burma, where a freely-elected parliament has been seated for the first time, and where we have called for an end to discrimination and violence directed at the Rohingya Muslim minority. Our FY 2017 budget includes $1.25 billion in assistance to the national unity government of Afghanistan to strengthen its institutions, bolster its security capabilities, repel attacks by violent extremists, implement economic reforms, preserve gains made over the last decade (including for women and girls), and move forward with a wide range of social programs. We are requesting $742 million in aid to Pakistan to support its citizens as they seek security, build democracy and sustain economic growth and development – even as the country continues to suffer from terrorist attacks. Last October, I traveled to every state in Central Asia to reaffirm America’s friendship with the people in that part of the world and to discuss shared concerns in such areas as security, energy policy, development, and human rights. Also in 2015, we strongly endorsed democratic progress in Sri Lanka, while elevating our important strategic dialogue with India to include a commercial component, reflecting the five-fold increase in bilateral trade over the last decade,” he said. read more