Olympian Deepak Bista celebrates Refugee Spirit and Olympic Participation

18 August 2016

KATHMANDU, 18 August – Today, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Nepal marked the first-ever participation of a refugee team in the Rio Olympics by organizing various sporting events for refugees.

Olympian Deepak Bista attended the event and cheered on hundreds of refugees of diverse nationalities and local youth, who competed in football, athletics, badminton and table tennis, while celebrating the spirit of sportsmanship and diversity in Kathmandu.

“The Rio Olympics has sent a strong message to the world — that refugees are resilient and ready to overcome obstacles to achieve success,” said Bista, who represented Nepal in taekwondo in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

“The refugee team in the Olympic Games is a story of hope and inspiration for people all over the world,” he said. Bista is the most decorated athlete in Nepal’s history with four consecutive goal medals in the South Asian Games and two bronze medals in Asian Games.

Ten athletes from four countries are competing as part of the Refugee Team under the Olympic flag in Rio de Janiero. Among them are two swimmers from Syria, two judo competitors from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and six runners from Ethiopia and South Sudan.

Addressing the event, UNHCR Representative Kevin J. Allen said, "Today’s event is about humanity and solidarity — bringing together Nepalese and refugee youth to engage in sport, while transcending nationality and the borders which sometimes divide us.”

On Saturday, 13 August, hundreds of Bhutanese refugees and local residents in Damak in eastern Nepal, joined forces in a 7.5 kilometer mini-marathon to celebrate community and commemorate the Refugee Olympic team.

The sports activities coincide with the launch of UNHCR’s “With Refugees Campaign” – a global call for action to ensure that every refugee child gets an education, that every refugee family has somewhere safe to live, and that every refugee can work and learn new skills to make a positive contribution to their community.

The signatures of support collected from the campaign will be presented to the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants on 19 September in New York.

Since late 2007, UNHCR in Nepal has helped more than 104,000 refugees from Bhutan start new lives in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

The agency also carries out a range of protection and assistance programmes for those Bhutanese refugees who remain in Nepal, with increasing focus on promoting self-reliance and durable solutions outside the context of resettlement.

UNHCR’s work in Nepal also includes providing protection and assistance to Tibetan refugees, urban refugees of different nationalities and helping find solutions for people without access to citizenship certificates.

For further information, please contact:

Deepesh Das Shrestha,

Senior External Relations Associate UNHCR,

Kathmandu, Nepal

Phone : +977 (01) 4414724,

mobile : 98510 81931, email: shrestde@unhcr.org