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VOA Youth Soccer Tournament in Burundi Raises Awareness of Refugee Issues

More than 3,000 young people attended a VOA-sponsored soccer tournament earlier this month

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Ngozi, Burundi, February 21, 2007 -- More than 3,000 young people attended a Voice of America (VOA)-sponsored soccer tournament earlier this month, aimed at fostering understanding and friendship between recently repatriated refugees and their peers.

The February 2nd-3rd tournament featured six teams. Players included school children from Ngozi, former child soldiers, and young refugees. Ngozi Islamic High School defeated Ngozi City Hall four goals to two in the championship game.

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The staff of Ejo Bite? (What about the Future? ), a youth-oriented VOA radio program that focuses on refugees and examines repatriation issues, organized and promoted the event. Ejo Bite? is reported and produced primarily by Burundian teenagers in refugee camps and in Burundi's priority repatriation areas. The 30-minute show, in Kirundi, airs weekly as part of VOA's Central Africa Service.

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"VOA planned the soccer tournament as a way of helping create a sense of community in Ngozi for recently returned refugees, to help ease some of their difficulties returning to their homeland," said VOA Central Africa Service Chief Robert Daguillard.

The U.S. State Department funds Ejo Bite? through a grant from its Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. VOA's Central Africa Service broadcasts seven hours each week at 0330-0430 UTC to the Great Lakes region on shortwave, as well as on VOA's own FM frequency in Kigali, Rwanda. VOA also broadcasts on FM through Radio Publique Africaine in Bujumbura, Burundi and Radio Kwizera in Ngara, Tanzania. Visit our Web site at for more information.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 115 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.