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Thursday, August 04, 2016

Stand #WithRefugees

Stand #WithRefugees

Striking short film about the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team captures the spirit of the 65 million people fleeing conflict and persecution worldwide

LONDON, Aug. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- There is a story that needs to be told.

On the 5(th) August, at the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, ten elite athletes will walk out in front of a global audience of over a billion. They've survived bombings, walked barefoot through entire countries and swum for hours, pushing a boatload of people to shore. Brave and determined, they didn't just survive; they also trained and qualified for the Olympics. They are the Refugee Olympic Team.

This year, for the first time in history, refugee athletes are participating in the Olympic Games, competing in Rio under the Olympic flag as part of a unified team fully funded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). At a time when global forced displacement is at a record high, these ten swimmers, runners and judokas represent the hopes and dreams of a vast population in need of international protection. So today, an inspirational 90' short film is being released by independent film production company Just So, in cooperation with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. As the trailer for a longer documentary, it aims to build respect and empathy for the global refugee population as well as this team of ten.

"We represent all refugees and we want to show the world our potential. We will prove that we are very capable, and when we are provided adequate conditions, we can achieve great results," said 25-year-old swimmer Rami Anis, who fled Syria and found refuge in Belgium.

"These ten remarkable athletes embody the determination and resilience of the many millions of people fleeing conflict and persecution worldwide," said Melissa Fleming, UNHCR's Head of Communications and Public Information. "They remind us that refugees are people just like you and me, people who want to achieve their full potential against all odds."

The short film will be hosted on the UNHCR YouTube page.

Four months ago, when the IOC announced the formation of the team, Just So sought out refugee athletes around the world to make a long form documentary to change perceptions. Co-produced by creative agency Grey London, the documentary tells the story of 65 million people forced from their homes, distilled into the experience of a few. A human perspective on the biggest crisis of our generation, the film is about determination and dignity.

"The word refugee provokes feelings of negativity, fear or at best, sympathy. We want to inspire admiration instead of pity because to be a refugee is to have survived, to have endured, to have never given up," said Richard Ascott, Managing Director of Just So.

Reaching out through social media, Just So built a deep bond with the Olympic hopefuls, capturing training, family life and the world they now inhabit, while also providing them with their own cameras to film their daily lives. The film is still in production.

"We don't know how the story will unfold," Ascott continued, "but we do know that there are endless examples of people of ability and ambition who because of horrendous circumstances beyond their control have been expelled from their homes. Our hope is that global media and audiences will support their cause. We have a duty to tell their story."

Rami is one of ten athletes on Team Refugees. He is joined by another Syrian swimmer, Yusra Mardini; South Sudanese runners Yiech Pur Biel (800m), James Nyang Chiengjiek (400m), Anjelina Nada Lohalith (1,500m), Rose Nathike Lokonyen (800m), and Paulo Amotun Lokoro (1,500m); Ethiopian marathon runner Yonas Kinde; and judo players Yolande Mabika and Popole Misenga, both from Democratic Republic of the Congo.

According to the UNHCR, an unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes to escape persecution, conflict, generalized violence or human rights violations. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.There are also an estimated 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.

UNHCR is urging viewers inspired by the short film to sign its #WithRefugees petition. Launched on 1(st) June with the help of UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett and a host of other UNHCR supporters, including Ben Stiller, Mika, Helen Mirren and Benedict Cumberbatch, the petition has already gained more than 475,000 signatures. It calls on governments to ensure that every refugee child gets an education, that all refugee families have somewhere safe to live and that all refugees can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution to their communities.

Pledge your support


Veronique Rhys Evans +44 7545 915 590
Ollie Dearn +44 7557 736 810

Note to Editors:

About Just So

Just So is an award-winning independent production company based in London. They have created broadcast documentary features and series for BBC Worldwide, Globo, Canal+ and Channel 4 and have a decade of experience working with some of the biggest brands in the world. This year they launched their independent media platform Postcards, in association with Sheffield Docfest, to fund and nurture emerging documentary filmmakers.


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people.

About Grey London

Grey London is an open, ambitious collision of almost 500 people working in London's Hatton Garden. We are a creative company on a mission to make a different shape of work, partnering with the world's most ambitious brands to play a meaningful role in culture.

That means creating more than just adverts. Sometimes the best advertising doesn't look, walk or talk like advertising at all. It could be a product (Volvo LifePaint), a building (the Lucozade Sport Conditions Zone), an event (The Angina Monologues for the British Heart Foundation), a font (Ryman Eco) or a #1 single (Lucozade 'Louder').

Our culture makes this kind of work possible. We call it Open. Open isn't about one way of doing things; it's about doing things in the way that works best for every client. No hierarchy, ego, or that old-school advertising ball and chain, sign off. Because we believe that none of us are as smart as all of us.

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