One year after the devastating earthquakes to hit Türkiye and Syria, the European Club Association (ECA) met with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) earlier this month to receive an update on the actions performed following the ECA donation to respond to the disaster and hear how donations from European clubs had helped some of the survivors.

Hosted by ECA Board Member Ali Y. Koç at the Ülker Stadium Fenerbahçe Şükrü Saracoğlu Sports Complex, the meeting brought together stakeholders from both organisations, including Angela Li Rosi, UNHCR Türkiye Representative, and representatives from the Turkish Union of Clubs.

The gathering heard how, thanks to support provided by ECA and other donors, UNHCR was able to provide emergency assistance, and understand the impact of contributions. ECA and UNHCR representatives discussed the recent support for refugees, which enabled the provision of critical emergency aid such as core relief items, shelters, and assistance to affected individuals and families.

On one hand, ECA's notable contributions included a substantial €500,000 donation to Switzerland for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency’s national partner in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.  The foundation passed the money on to UNHCR, which used it to help forcibly displaced people after the earthquakes. On the other hand, ECA launched a creative initiative involving the donation of over 200 signed shirts from 175 men’s and women’s clubs across Europe for an online auction. This initiative, involving the ECA Family, raised over €60,000 through bids from 50 countries around the world.

ECA Board Member Ali Y. Koç said: “The response to the earthquake both in terms of the financial donation and the clubs’ desire to give jerseys for the auction, fully demonstrated the unity within European football and the ECA Family. Through the ECA Foundation, our clubs will continue to help those in need and to show the positive effect that football can have on society at large.

“I have always believed that football is much more than a sport, and our response underlines that.”

Angela Li Rosi, UNHCR Türkiye Representative, added: “For people whose lives have been severely affected by war, conflict, discrimination, or persecution, opportunities to engage in sports can create a sense of belonging. It can help them feel included and integrated into the communities hosting them. It is about an entire system of organizations with the capacity and potential to contribute to protecting, empowering and including the forcibly displaced people. This is why meetings such as the one hosted by ECA provide an important platform for fruitful discussions, paving the way to support refugees and host community members through sports and beyond,  in  areas such as education, livelihoods and shelter.”

The money raised by ECA follows similar support provided by ECA to assist displaced children and families from the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis via the ECA Ukraine Relief Fund.

About UNHCR:
UNHCR is the leading global organisation mandated to protect and assist people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. For over seven decades, UNHCR has been saving the lives, and protecting the rights and well-being of refugees, other forcibly displaced people and stateless persons around the globe and has been working tirelessly to help those affected by the devastating earthquakes. In Türkiye, since February 2023, 180,000 individuals benefitted from support as UNHCR delivered 34,700 family tents, eight large plastic warehouses, and 50 Refugee Housing Units (RHUs) to affected areas.

About Switzerland for UNHCR:
The Swiss Foundation is the UN Refugee Agency’s national partner for Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It supports UNHCR's mission by mobilizing essential resources from the population in these two countries. Switzerland for UNHCR also carries out awareness and advocacy initiatives to draw the Swiss public’s attention to the plight of displaced people in the world, and to what UNHCR does to protect them.