Tuesday, 31 May 2016 12:45

UNHCR launches “Refugees Got Talent!” competition in Sulaymaniyah

Sulaymaniyah, 31 May 2016 - The end of the school year is approaching but the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, is on the look-out for talented young school-aged refugees.

As part of its plans to mark World Refugee Day, on June 20, UNHCR’s Sulaymaniyah office decided to launch a competition to showcase the skills and talents of young high school and university-aged refugees in Sulaymaniyah. The governorate hosts around 32.000 refugees, 32% of which live in camps.

Education is a major challenge facing refugees in Sulaymaniyah. There are over 7,800 Syrian refugee children and youth living in Sulaymaniyah and most do not attend school, often because their families to not have enough money to pay for school fees and supplies or transportation. A shortage of spaces in schools also means many children are unable to pursue an education and are forced to stay at home.

While some primary education is provided for children up to the ninth grade, It is very hard for youngsters to get places in secondary schools and universities – mostly due to financial constraints. “They are excited to learn, but the difficulties they face are huge. This requires international support and funding”, said Hawar Juma, Education Assistant from Qandil, UNHCR partner of an education project that targets primary and secondary school students across the governorate.

In Sulaymaniyah, both in and out of camps, UNHCR staff had noticed some special talents amongst young refugees – painters, dancers, singers and breakdancers. “Children should be children; they should be able to play, sing, and act”, said Fern Tilakamonkul, UNHCR field officer. “We are having this activity as a way to allow them to express themselves, have a little sense of normalcy, when they face huge challenges in their everyday lives”.

The “Refugees Got Talent!” competition will launch on May 31 in locations across Sulaymaniyah province that have the highest numbers of refugees. Auditions will take place in Sulaymaniyah centre, Chamchamal, Bazian, Rania and Arbat Refugee Camp, when the final show will take place, with a jury formed by local celebrities, on June 20, World Refugee Day.

"I'm really excited for this activity as it has never been done in Iraq and we will give refugees across Sulaymaniyah the chance to show off their talents", said Anne Dolan, UNHCR head of field office for Sulaymaniyah. "Maybe one of them will become the next star!"

For the winners’ prizes and the final show, UNHCR is looking for sponsors and celebrities to send their best wishes to the finalists. In particular, the agency is hoping that some of these goodwill messages will come from previous finalists of the “Got Talent” shows from around the world.

The idea is for young refugees in Sulaymaniyah to showcase their skills, get the support of a big crowd and have a special night - one not that different from the famous TV show they might watch and see other talents on display from around the world.

Contact: Marco Rotunno, CCCM Advisor, UNHCR +964 770 494 5859. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/refugeesgottalentsuli/
Twitter account: @REFGotTalent

Additional Info

  • Agency: UNHCR

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