In a bid to engage social development initiatives through football, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) signed a partnership agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) yesterday in Malaysia. Cooperation between the two organisations will take place under auspices of the recently launched AFC Dream Asia Foundation. The two parties signed the agreement at a signing ceremony at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur.
Speaking, about the new deal and the impact it will bring, at the ceremony, AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John said: “The AFC is delighted to work with UNHCR to have a real, positive impact on lives across Asia. Football is a powerful tool for social development and it is our responsibility to spread the joy of the beautiful game as wide as possible.”
Further added the General Secretary, “The plight of displaced people is distressing and affects the whole continent. Working with established humanitarian organisations like the UNHCR, and with our new AFC Dream Asia Foundation, I am sure we will see our efforts bear fruit, to the benefit of refugees across Asia.”
Speaking about the association with AFCm Richard Towle, UNHCR Representative in Malaysia, said: “Refugees often remain invisible in society. As the UNHCR looks to find ways to make their plight visible, we are excited to partner with the Asian Football Confederation, an international football organisation with integrity and credibility. Football can help refugees connect with their host countries, giving them visibility and purpose, in addition to providing health and educational benefits.”
The agreement between the AFC and the UNHCR is based on the organisations’ vision statements and objectives. The first joint pilot project under the agreement will support the Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.
UNHCR Malaysia will provide refugees with an avenue to participate in programmes which promote their self-reliance, empowerment and social inclusion. The objective of the AFC, who signed an international MoU with UNHCR last December, is to undertake effective social responsibility campaigns and promote the game of football and its unifying educational, cultural and humanitarian values.