'Red-nosed clowns' to cheer up Iraqi kids | world | Hindustan Times
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'Red-nosed clowns' to cheer up Iraqi kids

world Updated: Dec 29, 2007 16:40 IST

To bring smiles on the faces of Iraqi children traumatised by violence, red-nosed clowns would entertain them while they register for school in neighbouring places.

The clowns are enlisted by UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which first learnt about their benefits when a local troupe was hired on 'World Refugee Day' to perform in the tense and unhappy waiting room at its main registration centre in Damascus, the Syrian capital.

"We know that one in five refugees that register with UNHCR are victims of violence or torture in Iraq," UNHCR Representative Laurens Jolles said.

"This means that many families, particularly children, are traumatised when they come to us. The clowns offer a rare opportunity for parents and children to smile during the otherwise very difficult experience of registering with UNHCR", Jolles said.

During the recruitment, three people came forward when the agency put out a message that it was looking for Iraqi clowns to perform a regular show at the registration centre as part of its "Back to School" campaign. They became UNHCR's first outreach volunteers from the Iraqi community.

There are more than 1.4 million Iraqi refugees in Syria.

UNHCR asked the independent international group, 'Clowns Without Borders', to review the first show, which focused on informing parents and children that all Iraqi children have the right to attend school.