United Nations Launches Animated Video Featuring Yusra Mardini, Syrian Member of Pioneering Refugee Olympic Team, in Observing World Day

Note No. 6502
20 June 2017

United Nations Launches Animated Video Featuring Yusra Mardini, Syrian Member of Pioneering Refugee Olympic Team, in Observing World Day

The United Nations Department of Public Information has launched a new animated video on the dramatic story of Yusra Mardini, a young refugee from conflict-torn Syria who achieved her dream to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games.

Produced by the Department’s Education Outreach Section in support of the TOGETHER initiative, the video will mark World Refugee Day on 20 June and highlight the advent of the International Day of Peace on 21 September.  It aims to dispel negative attitudes towards and discrimination against refugees and migrants by building empathy in young people towards them, particularly the many who have faced extremely difficult circumstances in their quest to find more secure lives.  The animated video will be available in all six official United Nations languages.

Nineteen-year-old Yusra Mardini, appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on 27 April, swam in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games as a member of the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team and now lives and studies in Berlin.  She fled Syria with her sister, travelling through Lebanon and Turkey before trying to reach Greece by boat.  When its motor failed, she and her sister jumped into the sea and swam for more than three and a half hours in open water to keep the boat from capsizing, saving the lives of 20 people.

The video coincides with the 100-day countdown to the 2017 International Day of Peace, the theme of which is “Together for Peace:  Respect, Safety and Dignity for All”, honouring the spirit of TOGETHER, a United Nations initiative that seeks to reduce negative perceptions of refugees and migrants, encourages people to welcome them into their communities and combats xenophobia.  In his message to mark the countdown, the Secretary-General said:  “Our obligation as an international community is to ensure that everyone forced to flee their homes receives the protection to which they are entitled under international law.  Our duty as a human family is to replace fear with kindness.  Over the next 100 days, let us remember that millions of vulnerable members of our society, many of whom have lost everything, need our understanding and assistance.”

Observed annually on 21 September, the International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the General Assembly.  The United Nations invites all nations and peoples to honour a cessation of hostilities and otherwise commemorate the Day through educational and public-awareness activities on issues related to peace.  The Day is devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples, which depend on the intellectual and moral solidarity of humankind.

The Education Outreach Section creates and disseminates educational material on the United Nations for teachers and students at all levels to further their understanding of and build support for the Organization’s priority issues.  It will screen the video at the Student Conference to be organized in observance of the International Day of Peace on 15 September at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The video can be viewed at https://youtu.be/OS5WQCef8GA.  For more information, please visit www.un.org/peaceday and follow #peaceday.  For information on the TOGETHER initiative, please visit together.un.org and follow #jointogether.  For information on World Refugee Day, please visit www.unhcr.org and follow #withrefugees.  For media queries, please contact Kimberly Mann, Chief, Education Outreach Section, United Nations, at tel.:  +1 212 963 6835, or email:  mann@un.org.

For information media. Not an official record.