UN-Supported Youth Centre in Burundi Welcomes Special Adviser on Sport

(Bujumbura/Geneva-)-UNOSDP Media Release, Dec 05, 2011: As part of his ongoing visit to South Africa, Kenya and Burundi, UN Special Adviser Wilfried Lemke today visited a brand new Youth Sport Centre in Gatumba, Burundi, in the border region with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (UN Supported Youth Centre Burundi).

The project is one of the five initiatives selected by the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) as beneficiaries of the one million euro Award received from UEFA in Monaco last year.

And the Grant Winners are…

In August 2010, the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) was honoured with the 2010 Monaco Charity Award by the Union des Associations Européennes de Football (UEFA). The award of one million euro was agreed to be spent funding five Sport for Development and Peace projects touching on five thematic areas (gender, peace, health, education and disability) in five geographical regions.

In addition to the Gatumba Youth Center in Burundi (representing ‘Africa’ and the thematic area of ‘Peace’), the other four recipients include:

a project in the Gaza Strip, designed by the Berlin-based Office for Psychosocial Issues (OPSI) and supported by the German Foreign Ministry and UNRWA to train coaches and peer leaders to offer socio-psychological support to school children by using two newly built sports grounds;

a project by the Tajikistan National Taekwondo Federation, with support from UN WOMEN, which will aim to strengthen the access for girls to sport and aim to promote women’s rights in Tajikistan;

a project coordinated by the NGO Blaze Sports aimed at increasing and enhancing inclusive disability sport and physical activity opportunities for people with disabilities in Haiti;

and a programme by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Ukraine, which will use the social and educational potential of football to empower disadvantaged youth in the most affected regions of the country.

A “beacon of hope and joy”

During the visit, Mr. Lemke expressed his deep satisfaction that the centre can be a beacon of hope and joy in a region historically plagued by violent conflicts, economic difficulties and a severe lack of opportunities. “This centre is a neutral and safe place, where the local communities can gather, communicate, learn, have fun and construct a new future for themselves, together,” he said. “On these new sports grounds, a fresh start is possible.”

The multi-sports complex will soon provide a social and cultural point of gathering for more than 7,000 young women and men in the commune of Mutimbuzi and at the cross-borders of Gatumba, and thus promote better social cohesion between Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda youth. The centre will also provide an environment for youth to develop and learn new skills and later on engage in income-generating activities.

The 174,000 euro grant provided by UNOSDP will support the implementation of the various sporting, educational, training and cultural activities over the next four years, along with the provision of sporting and IT equipment. The project is a unique joint venture carried between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Government of Burundi, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the National Olympic Committee of Burundi.

Selecting the projects – a great responsibility;

Partnership is at the very core of the model chosen by UNOSDP for disbursing the funds from the 2010 Monaco Charity Award. The process began late 2010 with the initial invitations going out to around ninety selected UN agencies and NGOs to submit an application. In the end, only five highly deserving projects were selected.

“Today, thousands of commendable projects are mobilizing the transformative power of sport to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of people around the world,” Lemke declared. “It has been a real privilege – but also a great responsibility, given the number of strong applications we received – to have the opportunity, through this Award, to support financially five game-changing projects and partner with like-minded organizations, including some of our UN sister organizations,” he added.

Three-Nation African Tour;

In Burundi, the Special Adviser also visited a project by the International Judo Federation as well as the Olympafrica centre. Tomorrow, he will meet with the President of the Republic, H.E. Pierre Nkurunziza, who was honoured last October by the Monaco-based organization Peace and Sport “for having made sports as a tool for reconciliation in his country”.

The Great Lakes nation is the final stop for Mr. Lemke in a five-day mission which took him to Cape Town, in South Africa, where he took part in the 2nd International Sport and Development Conference hosted by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Sport Science and Development (ICESSD) of the University of the Western Cape, and to Nairobi, Kenya, where the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) was celebrating their 25th Anniversary.

In Nairobi, Mr. Lemke also had the chance to meet with former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan; the two exchanged views on the initiation of a series of UN sports initiatives contributing to the ‘Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation’ process, following the post-election crisis in 2008, and supporting the UN Governance programme in the lead-up to the presidential elections in late 2012.

In the Kenyan capital, he also visited – together with Care representative Dr. Auma Obama and German Ambassador Margit Hellwig-Boette – a social-driven football initiative run by the Dhacks Foundation in the Dandora dumping site.

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