Students playing at schools with UNHCR Cyprus

Friday , 21 December 2007

Nicosia – Some 50 students at two schools of the public secondary education had the opportunity this week to experience what it means to be a refugee by playing the on line game taxidi fygis with their teachers and a UNHCR staff member.

By taking players through the trauma of fleeing persecution and seeking asylum, the game – by attractive means for youngsters - aims at enhancing awareness and fostering empathy on refugee and asylum issues, as well as human rights in general, tolerance and interculturalism. By playing the game students get to understand better the notion of the term “refugee”, the difficulties that a refugee is facing in the new country and the needs of a refugee in order to be effectively integrated in the host country.

The game targets mainly students of secondary education (12-18 years old) while teachers can also benefit from the game by making use of the teacher’s guide, which is an integral part of the game.

In an effort to maximise access to the game and enhance the dissemination of the messages behind the game, UNHCR Representation in Cyprus, with the assistance of the Ministry of Education and Culture, started organising a series of workshops at schools of the secondary and technical education. An overall number of 25 public schools in Cyprus, Gymnasiums and Lyceums have been selected in 2007-8 by the Ministry to participate in the workshops.

At the workshops, which take two school periods of one class of each of the selected schools, students are invited to actually play particular parts of the game and to express their own thoughts, opinions and perceptions on refugee issues. It is further explained that under international conventions, as well as under the EU acquis and national refugee law, every individual has the right to seek asylum from persecution in another country and the right to be granted asylum if the individual is indeed in fear of persecution. Also indispensable for the purposes of such a workshop is the presentation of how refugees in the contemporary world- together with other groups of migrants –risk their lives every day in desperate attempts to find safety.

The first two workshops were conducted at the beginning of this week at the Gymnasium of Geri and the Gymnasium of Kokkinotrimithias. The workshops will continue after the Christmas holidays, as from January until March 2008.

The reality game, taxidi fyigis, was initially created by UNHCR Stockholm back in 2005 and has been adapted into German, English, German, Greek, Norwegian and Swedish. The English version of the game is Against All Odds.

The Greek version of the game was prepared by UNHCR Cyprus and was launched last June, on the occasion of the World Refugee Day. UNHCR Cyprus remains grateful to both the Archbishopric of Cyprus and the Ministry of Education and Culture that sponsored the adaptation of the game into Greek, as well as to all actors, including almost all the mass media, which advertised (for free) the game.

The game can also be accessed from UNHCR’s main website at the section Against All Odds

For further information, please contact:

Emilia Strovolidou, Public Information Officer, e-mail:

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