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Syrian refugee to carry Rio 2016 Olympic torch in Brasilia

Editor: Zhang Pengfei 丨Xinhua

05-03-2016 09:38 BJT

Full coverage: 2016 Rio Olympics

BRASILIA, May 2 (Xinhua) -- Syrian refugee Daqqah Hanan, 12, who has been living in Brazil since 2015, will be one of the first 10 Brazilians that will carry the Olympic torch on Tuesday in Brasilia, where the torch will begin its journey through the South American country.

Hanan was chosen by the Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro 2016 Organizing Committee after a suggestion from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), announced Brazil's government on Monday.

The Syrian girl will carry the torch along the Ministries Esplanade, a little after the Olympic flame leaves the Planalto Palace (the President of Brazil's workplace) at 10:00 local time (13:00 GMT).

According to UNHCR, the Olympic torch being carried by a refugee is a symbolic gesture of solidarity with refugees all over the world at a time when millions of people are fleeing war, conflict and persecution.

Currently, it is estimated that there are around 20 million refugees in the world, the highest number seen since the end of the Second World War.

The Rio 2016 Olympic flame was lit on April 21 in the Greek city of Olimpia, home of the Olympic Games.

On April 26, Syrian refugee Ibrahim Al-Hussein carried the Olympic torch through the Eleonas refugee Camp in Athens.

In Brazil, the torch's relay begins on Tuesday and will last around 90 days until the Olympic Games' Opening Ceremony on August 5 in the Maracana Stadium, where the Olympic cauldron will be lit.

The Olympic Games will take place from August 5 to 21 and the Paralympic Games will run from September 7 to 18, both in Rio de Janeiro.

Hanan lives in Sao Paulo in a small city centre apartment with her father, mother, older brother and younger sister. The girl's uncles, aunties and four cousins also live with them.

Totally integrated into Brazilian life, the Syrian girl studies in a public school near to her house, she speaks Portuguese fluently and has several Brazilian friends.

Hanan's mother is pregnant and hopes to give birth at the end of May.

The girl and her family come from the city of Idlib, 59 kilometres southeast of Aleppo, Syria's capital and scene of conflict between government forces and rebel groups in a civil war.

The family arrived in Brazil in 2015 thanks to special visas from Brazil's government which facilitates people affected by the Syrian conflict's entrance in to the South American country.

The war in Syria has caused over 4.8 million to become refugees and many of them live in the neighboring countries.

Currently around 8,700 refugees live in Brazil and out of this number, over 2,000 are Syrian.

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