Film tells story of first refugee Olympic team to 'show the world their potential'

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has partnered with Grey London and production company Just So to tell the story of the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team.

The team, comprised of ten refugee athletes from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, will compete in the Rio 2016 Olympics and march in the Opening Ceremony tomorrow. The International Olympic Committee is funding the team to draw attention to the global refugee crisis. 

UNHCR released a 90-second film about the refugee athletes today, which is hosted on the organisation’s YouTube page. The campaign, which is featured on the Google UK homepage today, asks viewers to sign the #WithRefugees petition, which calls for more aid to refugees and has gained more than 475,000 signatures since launching on 1 June.

A long-form documentary about the team is still in production and a release date is yet to be confirmed.

"We represent all refugees and we want to show the world our potential," said 25-year-old swimmer and team member Rami Anis, who fled Syria and settled in Belgium. 

The film was directed by Jonny Madderson and Jono Stevens at Just So and created by Andy Lockley and Peter Gatley at Grey London.

Just So approached Grey with the concept and the two companies began filming four months ago, when the IOC announced the formation of the team. 

A spokeswoman for UNHCR said: "These ten remarkable athletes embody the determination and resilience of the many millions of people fleeing conflict and persecution worldwide.

"They remind us that refugees are people just like you and me, people who want to achieve their full potential against all odds."

There are nearly 21.3 million refugees worldwide and 65.3 million people displaced by persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations, according to the UNHCR. 

Sarah Jenkins, chief marketing officer of Grey London, said: "In partnership with Just So, our ‘client’ is the global refugee population. And our goal is to change the way the world sees them."

Veronique Rhys Evans, head of PR and communication at Grey London, told Campaign it is "just the beginning" of the agency’s involvement with the campaign and that it will continue to find partners and cultural moments to help change the negative conversation around refugees.

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