Medium and Message: The UN Refugee Agency

The UN Refugee Agency's online simulation game teaches children about the experiences of refugees.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has created an online simulation game to teach young people about the problems refugees and asylum seekers face. Players take on the role of refugees and asylum seekers and encounter repressive governments and sceptical officials as they try to flee persecution.

Players must later find shelter and support in a new country in which they can't speak the language and don't know anyone.

Peter Kessler, spokesman for the UN Refugee Agency, says Against All Odds (www.playagainstallodds.com) will develop young people's understanding of the reasons why people seek asylum. "It is a unique educational tool," he says.

The game is accompanied by background articles and interviews with real refugees, including an Iraqi boy who describes what it was like to come to Europe after his father was shot. There is also a guide for teachers, with lesson plans and classroom resources. The game is available in nine languages and has been certified by the age-rating system Pan European Game Information as being suitable for children of seven years and older.

The game was launched in Sweden in 2005. Information about asylum seekers in the UK was added for the UK launch this month.

At the end of the game, players are invited to donate what they would spend on a chocolate bar to the UN Refugee Agency.

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