IOC sets up $2m fund for refugee crisis

International Olympic Committee follows example of German football club Bayern Munich.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided to set up a $2m fund as the refugee crisis grips Europe.

Tens of thousands have fled the Syrian conflict in recent weeks, crossing via Turkey and Greece on their way to central and northern Europe.

The plight of those fleeing conflict in their own countries such as Syria, as well as economic migrants escaping poverty, has polarised opinion in Europe, with the amount of new arrivals stretching the EU’s asylum system, as well as straining relations within the bloc.

Earlier this week, German football club decided to donate $1.11m to help refugees and set up a training camp for those arriving in Munich.

“We have all been touched by the terrible news and the heartbreaking stories in the past few days,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement.

Refugees begin arriving at Hungary-Austria border

“With this terrible crisis unfolding across the Middle East, Africa and Europe, sport and the Olympic Movement wanted to play its part in bringing humanitarian help to the refugees.

“We made a quick decision that we needed to take action and to make this fund available immediately.”

The amount would be distributed through projects proposed by National Olympic Committees and other interested parties and the whole process would be done “extremely quickly” given the nature of the crisis, the IOC said.

Bayern’s youth academy will set up the training camp for kids, in conjunction with the city of Munich. Apart from regular training, it will also offer meals and German language classes.

The senior team will be accompanied by refugee children when they enter the pitch for their next home game against Augsburg on September 12 with the club also planning a friendly with $1.11m of revenue going towards helping refugees.

Germany expects to receive 800,000 asylum seekers this year, four times more than in 2014, Germany’s Labour and Social Affairs Minister Andrea Nahles said on Thursday.

Banners with “Refugees welcome” or “Welcome to Germany” were visible in almost every Bundesliga match last week while many teams have also invited migrants to watch their games from the stands.

The German football association (DFB) on Wednesday issued a video message condemning any attacks on refugees or on their accommodation in Germany as well as any form of xenophobia.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies