Abu Dhabi residents take part in relay run in support of refugees

New York University Abu Dhabi held a 12-hour relay to raise awareness of the plight of people displaced by conflicts and disasters across the globe

Powered by automated translation

Abu Dhabi residents stepped out in solidarity to help put the sacrifices of refugees across the globe in the spotlight.

People of all ages flocked to New York University Abu Dhabi on Thursday to take part in a 12-hour indoor relay to mark World Refugee Day.

The caring participants set themselves a goal of running 409 kilometres during the day, the gruelling distance travelled by one young refugee in order to reach safety.

Eva was just nine when she completed an arduous 12-day trek from South Sudan to Ethiopa in 2016 to flee from armed forces who had killed her family.

The university hosted the relay event, from 7am to 7pm, in support of the United Nations Refugee Agency's global initiative, 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety.

The campaign, launched earlier this year, encourages the public to walk, run or cycle to achieve a combined total of two billion kilometres, the distance that the UN calculates people forced to flee their homes travel every year to reach a place of safety.

Our original goal was to run 288km. “Then we were told us about the story of Eva so we thought we will change it to 409km to raise awareness about her story,” said Jess Castelyn, from NYU Abu Dhabi's social responsibility team.

Eight-year-old Harley Clarke was one of the youngest and most enthusiastic runners to take to the track.

“Eva had to walk without her family and it was very dangerous because she could have dehydrated; she is a strong girl,” said Harley.

Harley ran laps along with his sister Isabella, 13, and mother, Eva Clarke, 39.

“They love the feeling of doing something significant, we told him [Harley] about Eva so it means a lot for him to understand that what he feels in one hour, she felt for 12 days," said Ms Clarke.

“The younger they can become aware, the better.”