UNHCR Cyprus launched in June 2006 the public awareness campaign Hope in order to highlight the causes that force people to seek refuge in other countries, in an effort to develop empathy for this vulnerable group of people.
This campaign started with the launching of the UNHCR t-shirt “HOPE” (http://flickr.com/photos/unhcr-cyprus/sets/72157609042667392/), which took place within the framework of the World Refugee Day (WRD) on 20 June 2006. The t-shirt, designed by the well known Cypriot fashion designer Ms Kika Ioannidou, portrays vulnerable human beings (either a man or woman) who had to flee their country because of fear for their life and are hoping for help; help is coming to them from those understanding the plea.
“The red lines are the arms that are bringing the needed help. The yellow suns represent a brighter future with the hope that they will not have to run again from fear, hope that they will find safety, hope that they will manage to rebuild their lives” Ms Kika Ioannidou said, who designed and supervised the production of the t-shirt free of charge, as a way to show her support to those suffering persecution.
The intention of the t-shirt and messages of this campaign was to raise awareness among the public at large about the situations that lead a person to become a refugee and to promote empathy towards the particular needs of a refugee.
In explaining the rationale behind this campaign, Ms Cristina Planas, the Representative of UNHCR in Cyprus said: “The national asylum system in Cyprus is very new. It was only in 2002 when the Government of Cyprus directly undertook its responsibility over refugees. Moreover, until recent years, the number of asylum seekers in Cyprus was small and as such the Cypriot population has not been given the opportunity to be exposed to the asylum issue and particularly to conceptual differences such as: who qualifies as a refugee, what is the difference between a refugee and a person who leaves his/her own country in search of better economic opportunities, what is the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee, and why Cyprus – as well as other States – is responsible to properly examine who qualifies to be recognised as a refugee.”
“During our conversations with many people it has been noticed that there is a big deal of confusion. This is relevant because with this understanding, people will be able to develop empathy and if possible support towards those in need of international protection. Wearing the t-shirt will be a sign of support and understanding with a multiplier effect, one convincing many others” she concluded.
Apart from carrying its messages, the "Hope" T-shirt continues to provide the means to raise some funds for UNHCR's operations. While UNHCR’s operations have been traditionally funded by governmental donors, it has recently been noticed that many individuals and companies worldwide were not only able to contribute, but also eager to do so. For example, in 2005, more than 9 millions US Dollars has been donated to UNHCR by private donors from the Netherlands alone, more than 5 m from private donors in Italy and more than 3 m from private donors in the US.
The campaign started with Ilia, a girl-symbol of hope, who embarked on a journey throughout Cyprus to spread the messages behind this campaign. Marcos Baghdatis, Euridiki as well as other well-known and ordinary people - captured by the camera of the acclaimed Cypriot photographer and philanthropist, Marina Shacola - joined Ilia in this journey of hope. The campaign culminated to the photographic exhibition of Marine Shacole on 13 June 2008, at the foundation of Kathleen and Evagoras Lanitis in Limassol.(http://flickr.com/photos/unhcr-cyprus/sets/72157609038460502/, http://flickr.com/photos/unhcr-cyprus/sets/72157609037152131/ )
The design, production and marketing of the t-shirt, the photographs as well as the photographic exhibition, have taken place through voluntary contributions in cash or in kind by companies, individuals and foundations. UNHCR remains extremely grateful to all.
T-shirts are available for sale. You can buy it now. Just contact our office at 22 350057/ 22 359043.