The UNHCR wants people to travel 2 billion kilometers - the distance covered by people fleeing war and persecution every year | Credit: UNHCR/ANSA
The UNHCR wants people to travel 2 billion kilometers - the distance covered by people fleeing war and persecution every year | Credit: UNHCR/ANSA

Refugees travel 2 billion kilometers each year to escape war and persecution. The UN Refugee Agency now wants people to walk, run or bike that distance to demonstrate their solidarity.

The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR has announced a new global campaign urging people worldwide to cover the total distance travelled by refugees each year - 2 billion kilometers - by running, jogging or walking. The "2 Billion Kilometers to Safety" campaign vies to encourage people to support refugees by championing individual acts of solidarity, UNHCR said in a statement. The goal is to acknowledge the resilience and strength of refugees. 

Distance covered by refugees 

UNHCR traced the journeys of refugees around the world and calculated that, collectively, people forced to flee travel approximately two billion kilometers every year to reach the first point of safety. This is roughly the distance that separates Earth from somewhere between the planets Saturn and Uranus. According to UNHCR estimates, Syrian refugees travelled over 240 kilometers each to reach Turkey. South Sudanese refugees travelled more than 640 kilometers to reach Kenya. Rohingya refugees from Myanmar travelled approximately 80 kilometers to reach Bangladesh. 

The "2 Billion Kilometers to Safety" campaign calls on the public to show their solidarity with refugees by running, walking or cycling to collectively cover two billion kilometers. Participants can use their fitness apps or the campaign website to log the kilometers and contribute to the global total. 

Running, cycling and walking in 27 countries 

Participants can seek sponsorships to raise funds. The UN agency is hoping to raise over US$ 15 million to support refugees with food and water, shelter, basic aid, healthcare, psychological support, and registration and reception services. 

UNHCR reported that people in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, Central and North America, Europe and the Middle East had already pledged to take part in the campaign in 2019, including individuals, celebrity supporters, refugees and UNHCR personnel. 

"Every day, we are inspired by the acts of kindness from people who are doing their very best to improve life for refugees: the activists, the communities hosting refugees, businesses, donors, volunteers. This campaign will encourage people to support refugees through something they are already doing - walking, cycling, running", said UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Kelly T. Clements. "At a time when we are facing so many misconceptions about refugees, it is vital that we remind ourselves of the real and dangerous journeys they are forced to take". 
 

More articles