RODEO, California — Alphonso Davies is a professional Liberian-Canadian soccer player. He serves as the left-back for FC Bayern Munich and as a player for Canada’s National Men’s Football Team. The UNHCR announced Davies as a UNHCR Global Goodwill Ambassador in March 2021. Davies is the first Canadian and the first soccer player to earn this title.
The UN Refugee Agency
The COVID-19 outbreak carries the potential to bring severe hardship to people living in conflict zones like Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Refugees and displaced people have a higher chance of presenting underlying health issues due to the impact of war and the frequent lack of medical resources or adequate care in many areas. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is a global organization dedicated to protecting and uplifting refugees. As a part of its work, the UNHCR protects people facing displacement. It provides vital resources to those forced to leave homes. In 2020, the UNHCR delivered about 30,000 tents, three million blankets and 2.4 million sleeping mats to locations in need around the world.
UN Refugees Goodwill Ambassador
Following his appointment as a Goodwill Ambassador, Davies stated, “I am proud to join the UN Refugee Agency, as a Goodwill Ambassador. My own experiences make me want to speak up for refugees, to share their stories and to help make a difference.” On April 25, 2020, he participated in an online, livestreamed soccer tournament with Italian soccer player Asmir Begovic. The two athletes initially played representing their home countries of Bosnia and Ghana, raising awareness and money for the UNHCR. They also supported the UNHCR’s advocacy for slowing the spread of COVID-19, which calls for providing access to soap, clean water and essential aid to refugees.
Alphonso Davies supported the launch of Together for Learning in February 2021. The campaign exists as a major Canadian effort to promote access to quality education for refugees around the world. Together for Learning tackles the education crisis for refugees and internally displaced youth and children. The campaign will spend three years promoting “quality education and lifelong learning” for refugees globally. Together For Learning seeks to find the best resources for the educational needs of refugees and displaced children. The campaign also focuses on efforts for young girls, who disproportionately have less access to education.
Alphonso Davies’ connection to the UNHCR and refugee causes harkens back to his own roots. Davies’ parents fled the civil war in their home country of Liberia before Davies was born. As a result, Davies was born in a Ghanaian refugee camp. The camp protected him and his family until they resettled in Canada when Davies was five. After a little more than a decade, he began his professional soccer career at 16, making him “the youngest player to ever score for the Canadian national team.” Davies achieved his current success due to the opportunities and security resettlement provided. Now 20 years old, Davies seeks to support the UNHCR and leverage his position to help those in need.
In an official statement, Davies spoke about the importance of assisting refugees. He made clear that living situations like camps and countries of resettlement should not be barriers. Emphasizing the need for refugees to survive and thrive, Davies recognized both education and sports as vital for growth. The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic bring even more obstacles to refugee camps around the world. With the title of UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Alphonso Davies will use his inspirational story and achievements to contribute to the ongoing battle against global poverty.
— Jshania Angelique Owens