Paris Saint-Germain joins KLABU and FRIENDSHIP SPO to bring sport into the refugee camps of Bangladesh

The Mobile Sports Library has been sparking joy, building confidence and friendships among the Rohingya and Bangladeshi children in recent days in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps and surrounding villages.

Paris Saint Germain in partnership with the Amsterdam-based social start-up KLABU, and with FRIENDSHIP SPO in Bangladesh have come together to produce an innovative sports vehicle in PSG colours which has been traversing the South-East region of Bangladesh, loaded with sports equipment for children to play football, volleyball, badminton, cricket, footvolley (locally called sepak takraw), as well as other popular sports of the region.

Run by local coaches, the vehicle allows young girls and boys to take part in recreational activities and to enjoy a shared experience of joy, friendship and positivity. Nearly five hundred children benefit from this project on a daily basis. In addition to allowing children to play sports, the aim is also to connect refugee populations with the rest of the world, by broadcasting replays of sports games or playing music, thanks to a television on the side of the vehicle.

This project has been supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and has been warmly welcomed by the camp and Bangladeshi authorities.

Sabrina Delannoy, Deputy Director of Paris Saint-Germain’s Endowment fund, said: “This project is a huge source of pride for Paris Saint Germain and its endowment fund. We fight every day to make sport a source of inspiration and hope for children. Today, this know-how can benefit refugees in Bangladesh. We want to leave a smile on their faces, and unite Bangladeshi and Rohingya children around the same passion: sports.”

Jan van Hövell, founder and director of KLABU, said: “It is a dream come true to bring together Paris Saint-Germain with thousands of boys and girls in Bangladesh. On the pitch, everyone is a champion. This is a new chapter for the Rohingya and Bangladeshi children in Cox’s Bazar, playing fearlessly and proudly.”

FRIENDSHIP founder Runa Khan said: "The development community has done an incredible job fulfilling the immense material needs of this community that had lost everything. But we need to do the same for their spirits and for their souls. Every child has a right to play regardless of where they are from. And we hope that this access will help them grow and develop as any child should."

A Club Centre made up of a clubhouse, a sports field and a cinema and learning space, powered by solar energy, is now in construction and will offer long-term access to sport to many more children by summer 2022.

Paris Saint Germain and KLABU are currently developing a unique capsule collection to be revealed next season, with proceeds financing this programme for everyone to participate in this worldwide solidarity project.

This inspiring project is the first of a long series of programmes that Paris Saint Germain has signed up to in the coming years with its partners in Bangladesh.

UNHCR on Bangladesh’s refugee situation

Nearly one million Rohingya refugees live in the largest refugee camp in the world in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The Rohingya are an ethnic minority who have been denied citizenship in Myanmar, making them the world’s largest stateless population. Most arrived in 2017, fleeing persecution, large-scale violence and human rights violations.

Rohingya refugees rely entirely on humanitarian assistance for protection, food, water, shelter and health. They live in temporary shelters in a highly congested camp setting. With Bangladesh ranking third in the world among states most hit by natural disasters, Rohingya refugees are highly exposed to weather-related hazards, such as cyclones, flooding and landslides.

Together with our partners, UNHCR works to support the Government of Bangladesh to provide essential services and meet the protection needs of refugees, including special services for women, children and persons with disabilities. UNHCR’s support is extended to host communities while continuously working towards solutions to ensure that refugees can return in a safe, dignified, voluntary and sustainable way once conditions in Myanmar allow.