Kerala

Matching steps with refugees

A freelance journalist on a humanitarian quest, to walk 2 billion km

Riyaz Ali has been walking for the last 10 days and has covered over 190 kilometres.

He will do more of the same for another 30 days by the end of which he would have reached Chennai treading over 1,000 kilometres.

Mr. Ali, a 31-year-old freelance journalist, started his walk from Kozhikode on February 1 after signing up for Step With Refugees, a campaign being organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as an expression of solidarity with the many travails of refugees globally.

Reading about the haunting story of Eva, a South Sudanese girl who at the age of nine had to walk 12 days covering 409 kilometres to reach the safety of Ethiopia after her family was killed in the civil war, was what prompted Mr. Ali to take up the mission.

“Initially, I planned to walk exactly the 409 kilometres that Eva had to flee in search of safety but then I decided to walk all the way to the Rohingya refugee camp in Kelambakkam in Chennai,” Mr. Ali said.

The campaign, Step with Refugee, aims to cover 2 billion kilometres, which is the approximate distance refugees cover worldwide every year to reach the nearest point of safety for survival. Participants could choose walking, cycling or running, and can join the movement through fitness apps Fitbit, Strava or GoogleFit and the kilometres they log will add automatically to the campaign. The campaign also lends the participants the assistance of an online coach.

“I cover on an average 25-30 kilometres a day walking about eight hours split between morning and evening. The campaign also facilitates setting a target as part of daily fitness and then adding those kilometres manually. But I felt that hitting the road upheld the spirit of being part of the campaign,” said Mr. Ali who reached the city on Monday.

Mr. Ali’s endeavour seems to have already captured the imagination of the society with a college in Malappuram and a combine in Ponnanni approaching him for becoming part of the campaign. Mr. Ali has agreed to organise a mini marathon for them once his mission is over.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 12:08:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/matching-steps-with-refugees/article30784505.ece

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