South Sudan Olympian reunites with mom after 11 years as a refugee

2016-08-31 19:02
Rio Olympics (Getty Images)

Rio Olympics (Getty Images)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Juba - A South Sudanese Olympian who took part in the Rio 2016 Olympics as a member of the Refugee Olympic team was reconnected with his mother, 11 years after being separated from his family, The UN Refugee Agency reports.

Yiech Pur Biel, an 800m specialist, grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya after he was separated from his family while fleeing his home country in 2005 after violence broke out.

Participating in the sporting showpiece led to a series of surprising events, resulting in him receiving a call from his mother, who he had not seen in more than a decade.

"I didn’t know if she was alive or dead. She didn’t know if I was alive or dead, in fact she thought I was gone. It was really something amazing, even today I can’t believe it,” Biel was quoted as saying.

Biel woke up one morning in his room at the Olympic village in Rio de Janeiro and received a call from his mother, who had been alerted to the whereabouts of her son by a neighbour who had read about his sporting achievements.

Better future 

Biel was among five South Sudanese runners who made history as part of the 10-member refugee team who said that the Olympics served as a life-changing experience.

For the first time ever, since the modern Olympics began in 1896, a team of refugees competed. The team included two Syrian swimmers, two judokas from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a marathon runner from Ethiopia and five middle-distance runners, including Biel from South Sudan.

"Their participation in the Olympics is a tribute to the courage and perseverance of all refugees in overcoming adversity and building a better future for themselves and their families. UNHCR stands with them and with all refugees", the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said.

The initiative came at a time when more than 59. 5 million people were being forced to flee their homes to escape violence and persecution.

CNN reported that five of the Olympic Refugee Team received a heroes welcome on their return to the Kakuma Refugee camp in Kenya where they grew up.

The UNHCR confirmed that the five athletes would spend a week with family friends in the camp before returning to their training base in Nairobi.

Read more on:    nhcr  |  kenya  |  south sudan  |  rio 2016 olympics  |  east africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.