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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's answers to questions at press conference at Lusaka's Olympic Youth Development Centre

Lusaka, Zambia , 25 February 2012

Q: [Inaudible] Question about the refugees in Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

SG: This is meant to be a press interview on sports and development and peace, but since you raised this question, I discussed this matter with members of parliament. I appreciate that the Zambian Government has accommodated many refugees from neighbouring countries. It must have been a very heavy burden, socio-economically and it might have created some concerns and tensions even in the community. The United Nations at this time accommodates 35 million refugees around the world. With the conflicts continuing, we have more and more refugees and more and more internally displaced persons. This is a serious problem. We have almost 1 million refugees coming from Somalia. We have begun to have refugees and displaced persons fleeing Syriaand Palestinian refugees and everywhere. This creates huge burdens and I really appreciate all those countries for accommodating refugees. We are mobilizing all necessary resources, financial and political resources. What is important at this time is that refugees, they have also their human dignity and human rights. The countries who accommodate those refugees must protect their human rights and dignity and the UN will continue to work very closely and provide the necessary resources. Thank you very much.

Q: Excellency, I am sure you have followed Zambian sports for some time; apart from the Chipolopolo victory I am sure you followed other events we been having in Zambia. What is your true reflection of Zambian sports and where do you think they are headed too in terms of sports?

SG: I have seen huge potential among so many young people and I really appreciate and highly commend such foresight of Dr Jacques Rogge, IOC president, to have provided such good facilities. Sports has an extra ordinary power to motivate and inspire people, particularly when it comes to young people, you can expect a better future for your country and I am not talking about soccer or any specific sports or competition. Through sports these people can learn how to coordinate and cooperate as a team. As UN Secretary-General, what I am asking you is that while we have to address climate change, food crisis, energy issues and human rights and all conflicts, if you are united as one team, you can win over all these conflicts, not only sports. You were regarded as an underdog but when you are united and you demonstrated your teamwork, spirit of teamwork, you won. It was a miracle and it was something which Zambiacan do. That is a great lesson which you can learn from sports and I really appreciate the IOC in providing such good opportunities to many in the developing world. This is a part of achieving the Millennium Development Goals through sports; you can really inspire young people to be good leaders of tomorrow. Thank you.

Q: Why is this visit historic?

SG: First as a Secretary-General this is a first ever visit to Zambia. Zambia has been making great strides in terms of peace and stability, in terms of democratic principles and they have elevated themselves to middle income country. So this is a good example. And through my visit to the Olympic Youth Development Centre, I learnt a lot of great lessons. I am deeply inspired and impressed by the way sports can really give a sense of hope, big dreams to young people. Those people might have been on the streets and orphaned, and without much to do. They maybe were the ones out of schools. So how then to inspire them to become a very honourable citizen in the future? Sports have that capacity, sports have shown that possibility and that is why I am thinking this is a very historic visit. I thank you very much for your leadership.


Off-the-Cuff on 25 February 2012