23-10-2009

UNHCR and the Madrid town council are cooperating with BBVA on the initiative aimed at covering the educational needs of these children

For the second year running, BBVA holds a benefit race to help child refugees in Kenya

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  • BBVA's benefit race (the 'Carrera Popular Solidaria BBVA') will be held on November 1 in Madrid, and the bank's employees and customers, as well as the public at large, are invited. Those who do not wish to run can still participate by contributing a fee.
  • The registration fee is €5, and BBVA will match the total amount raised
  • 7,000 people have already signed up to participate in the race, which guarantees a minimum contribution of €70,000
  • This BBVA project falls under the aegis of an agreement with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in which it undertakes to finance the primary education of a group of child refugees in Dadaab, Kenya
  • The Madrid town council is actively helping organize BBVA's benefit race, as is Jesús Vázquez, UNHCR Ambassador and the face of the event
In 2008, BBVA and UNHCR signed a three-year cooperation agreement under which BBVA undertakes to finance the primary education of a group of child refugees in Dadaab, Kenya. For this reason, and for the second year running, BBVA, with the cooperation of UNHCR and the Madrid town council, is inviting its employees, customers and the public at large to participate in a benefit race, at a fee of €5 per head. This year the event will take place on November 1. BBVA will match the total amount raised. Given that 7,000 people have already signed up to participate, this event has raised €70,000. Those who do not wish to run can still participate by contributing a fee.

During the presentation of the race, which took place today at Madrid city hall, Ángel Cano, President and COO of BBVA, said that the bank was firmly committed to education through social action and corporate volunteering, as evidenced by the €85.3 million contributed by the bank to these type of initiatives in 2008.

Commitment to education

BBVA has made education one of the main pillars of its CSR policy. This reflects the belief that education is of critical importance to maximizing human potential and leveraging progress in our societies. The bank's motto is we work for a better future for everyone; for many people, education is the only way of attaining this better future.

For example, the BBVA Integration Scholarships Program provided scholarships to 47,104 children in Latin America last year. "Our education program has focused on the neediest, and we want this commitment to continue and be reinforced with a charity element involving all our stakeholder groups: employees, customers, shareholders, and society at large," stated Ángel Cano.

According to the president and COO of BBVA, the project falls under the aegis of an agreement with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for the 2008-2010 period, in which it undertakes to finance the primary education of 1,200 child refugees in Dadaab, Kenya. These children are currently living in three refugee camps ' Ifo, Hagadera and Dagahaley ' managed by UNHCR.

María Ángeles Siemens, Director of the Spanish UNHCR Committee, also participated in the presentation of the benefit race. She noted that out of close to 34 million refugees being assisted by UNHCR, 15 million are children. She praised the fundraising event and declared: "To contribute funds for the education of child refugees is to invest in a better future for us all. In Dadaab (Kenya), 1,700 children are depending on us for their studies".

Registration targets have been met already

During the presentation a video was shown featuring Jesús Vázquez, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and the public face of the event. He thanked the bank for its contribution to schools for refugees in Africa, saying that it gave hope to the region's most vulnerable.

The BBVA benefit race, to be held in Madrid on November 1, is open to all BBVA employees and customers, and to the public at large. Persons interested in participating may register online at the Carreras webpage (www.carrerapopularbbva.com).

The excellent reception of this initiative is evidenced by the fact that the 7,000 available slots were filled in record time. Participants who have signed up may pick up their numbers on October 29, 30 and 31. They will also receive a race kit, which includes a T-shirt especially designed to commemorate the event, JOMA socks, a thermos, a towel, and a backpack with the BBVA logo.

Each person who signed up to participate in the race made a €5 contribution. BBVA will match the funds obtained from the sign-up fees, which guarantees a minimum total contribution of €70,000.

Those who do not wish to run can still participate by depositing a fee into a BBVA bank account opened for that purpose.

BBVA benefit race

The 2009 BBVA benefit race will start at 9:30 on November 1. The race will have two different routes, one approximately 5km and the other 10km. The race starts at BBVA's headquarters at Castellana 81 and ends on Paseo de Camoens.

There will be a single category for children (ages 12 to 16), while men and women participants will be divided into the Junior, Senior, Veterans A (35 to 45 years of age) and Veterans B (over 45) categories.

Education in Kenyan refugee camps

UNHCR runs three refugee camps in Dadaab ' Ifo, Hagadera and Dagahaley ' where over 170,000 people live, of whom 97.5% are from Somalia, while the rest are refugees from Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Uganda, the Congo, Ruanda, Tanzania and Burundi.

The camps are located approximately 500km from Nairobi and 80km from the Somali border, in an area with harsh climatic conditions (temperatures of 40º to 50ºC, droughts, flooding, outbreaks of polio and Rift Valley fever), making survival extremely difficult.

UNHCR conducts activities to meet both the most immediate as well as the long-term needs of the refugees. Education plays a crucial role as an instrument for building and maintaining a social fabric, preventing unemployment, reducing frustration and the uprooting of the population, and creating a feeling of normalcy in the community.

Currently, 32,663 children are being taught at 18 pre-primary and primary schools in Dadaab. 39% of the children are girls. A very high percentage of both boys and girls in primary school do not attend class (44%).

Access to secondary-level education is limited, because of the small number of secondary schools and teachers, while the cost of tertiary education is beyond the reach of the vast majority of secondary-school graduates.