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FIDE launches Kakuma Refugee Chess Program

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FIDE launches Kakuma Refugee Chess Program

Arkady Dvorkovich, the FIDE President, has presided over the historic launch of the Kakuma Refugee Chess Program in Kenya. The program is dubbed ‘Chess for Protection‘.  FIDE, UNHCR and Chess Kenya jointly support the program.  Arkady Dvorkovich lauded the partnership and promised to work closely with UNHCR worldwide. He added that he has an emotional attachment to Africa after his trip to Kenya in 2018.

Kakuma Refugee Chess Program poster.
Kakuma Refugee Chess Program poster.

The program will run in three phases with approximately 1,600 children in 40 schools located within the Kakuma and Kolobey Refugee Camps.  

Anastasia Sorokina, the FIDE Vice President, Dana Reizniece-Ozola, FIDE Managing Director, and other officials were present. 

Shohreh Bayat

Shohreh Bayat, one of the invited speakers, gave an emotional presentation about being forced to live in a foreign country, as a refugee. She explained how knowing chess has helped her cope with her difficulties, particularly assistance from friends she knew through chess. 

Shohreh Bayat, hit international headlines when photos of her appeared in the Iranian press, showing that she was not wearing a hijab which is mandatory in Iran. Her unintentional action at the World Chess Championship forced her to seek asylum in the UK. She is the 2021 recipient of The International Woman of Courage Award.

Anastasia Sorokina, the FIDE Vice President (left) and IA Shohreh Bayat at the 2018 Batumi Olympiad. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
Anastasia Sorokina, the FIDE Vice President (left) and IA Shohreh Bayat at the 2018 Batumi Olympiad. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

Dana Reizniece-Ozola FIDE Managing Director

Dana Reizniece-Ozola, The FIDE Managing Director noted that 82 million people have been forcibly displaced around the world.  She expressed interest in expanding the partnership with UNHCR to other refugee camps.

Dana Reizniece-Ozola towards the end gave a simultaneous exhibition against the members of Kakuma Chess Club.

FIDE Managing Director Dana Reizniece-Ozola 
FIDE Managing Director Dana Reizniece-Ozola.

Benard Wanjala – Chess Kenya President

In his opening remarks, Benard Wanjala, the President of Chess Kenya, thanked the FIDE President for supporting Kenya’s initiative as the host.

Peter Diing, will be the project leader.  He will work closely with ten trainers who currently live within the Kakuma Camp

Peter Diing a well known chess organiser within the South Sudanese community in Kenya.  He organised the 2nd South Sudanese Chess Championship in Nairobi in June 2017.

Peter Diing in action during the 7th Capablaca Cup held in June 2017.  Photo credit Kim Bhari.
Peter Diing in action during the 7th Capablaca Cup held in June 2017. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

Chess Kenya Secretary-General John Mukabi, nine times Olympian and FIDE instructor (FI), will prepare the trainer.

CM John Mukabi in action during a past chess tournament.  Photo credit Kim Bhari.
CM John Mukabi in action during a past chess tournament. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

Kakuma Chess Club have made a Video about the project.