Iowa UNA hike to raise awareness of worldwide refugee crisis

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Hike to Help Refugees will start at PS1 and end in City Park. — photo by Adam Burke

Hike to Help Refugees

Starts and ends at Public Space One — Saturday, May 2 at 1:30 p.m.

The number of refugees worldwide has increased dramatically in just a few short years. According to the Iowa United Nations Association (IUNA), the number of refugees worldwide has risen to 51,000,000, up from 33,000,000 in 2013. This Saturday, May 2, the IUNA will host a hike from Public Space One to City Park to raise money and awareness around this global issue.

Hike to Help Refugees is a national organization formed in 2002 to raise money for refugees. Today, the organization is based in Iowa City and is the largest grassroots fundraiser for the UN Refugee Agency, which aids over 35 million people worldwide.

“Iowa City has a sizable population of refugees, especially when it comes to the Sudanese,” said Cora Metrick-Chen, the Associate Director of the IUNA. “Our state has a long legacy of opening its doors to refugee populations — including ones that were being denied refuge in other parts of the nation. A lot of people don’t have that sort of exposure to the refugee populations that make our state so vibrant and dynamic.”

All proceeds from the hike will go towards aiding refugees in Syria and Sudan. The UN Refugee Agency uses these funds to provide basic human needs like tents, cooking utensils and schooling to established refugee camps.

Those attending the hike are encouraged to seek pledges of any amount for every 500 feet walked in the hike, and top fundraisers will be honored with gift cards and prizes from local Iowa City businesses like High Grounds and Record Collector. Hikers are also asked to wear red as a show of support for the refugees.

Following the hike, the fundraiser will continue at Public Space One with performances by Soul Phlegm, Fatima Elbadri and Del-Marie Nelson. Personal testimonies will be given by Esaie Toingar, Altoum Hajar, Mazahir Salih and Abissa Newman, who will speak about how displacement from their home country affected them and what the Iowa City public can do to help displaced peoples everywhere.

The event costs $7 for students and $10 for adults; children under 12 attend for free. Those planning to attend can register online or at the event. Those unable to attend but still hoping to contribute can do so through the IUNA.

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