Abu Dhabi: Putting a spotlight on the harrowing journey refugees must go through to get to safety, New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) on Thursday organised a 12-hour relay event at its campus in solidarity with World Refugee Day, which saw residents from all walks of life coming together to mark the event.

Organised in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the event was held in honour of a young refugee girl named Eva, who at the age of just nine had to flee from South Sudan to Ethiopia on foot, with the walk taking her 12 days and more than 400 kilometres to complete until she reached to safety.

“In honour of World Refugee Day we organised this 12-hour indoor relay to try and recreate what Eva had to go through when she fled her own country to go to Ethiopia. Our goal with all of our runners is to reach a total combined distance of 409 kilometres, which is the distance Eva had to travel on foot,” said Jessica Castelyn, one of the main organisers of the event from NYUAD’s Office of Social Responsibility.

“The broader aim of this community event is to also raise awareness on the refugee issue and to keep more people informed about what’s happening with refugees around the world and the experiences they are having to go through on a daily basis,” she added.

“We have had people from all over the Abu Dhabi community coming to take part, and so it’s been a beautiful community event with everyone coming together for a good cause,” Castelyn said.

Mansour Ali Shaikh, an Indian runner who was taking part in the relay, said he was glad to do what he could to bring more awareness for refugees.

“This is all for a great cause. I ran 32 kilometres in the morning and I was able to get just a fraction of what young Eva must have felt when she had to walk to Ethiopia.

“This lets you, in a way, to put yourself in the shoes of a refugee and the huge distances they put themselves through everyday so that they can get to somewhere safe. It gives you a lot of personal perspective,” Shaikh added.

Firas Asraf, from the United Kingdom, who was also taking part in the event, said the relay was a unique way of bringing attention to the refugee crisis. “This is something different than the usual, people are getting active to understand the situation in a different light. By having this run you get a lot of people interested and asking about why we’re running? So that lets us give the story behind the refugee and it ties you in. I believe that if we find innovative ways of getting the message out, it will resonate with more people than the usual normal method of just putting information out there.” World refugee facts:

- 70 million people were forcefully displaced by the end of 2018, an increase of 2.3 million people from the previous year.

- 25 million of those displaced people are refugees.

- One person becomes displaced every two seconds.

- One in every 108 people globally is an asylum seeker, internally displaced or a refugee.

- Syrians are the highest number of forcibly displaced people, with 13 million people by the end of 2018.

- Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children.

Source: UNHCR