Peter Dejong/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Dedicated fans of the Eurovision Song Contest may not have been aware that among those taking part this year were three former refugees.
The UNHCR announced that the former refugees were participating in the annual international event to give inspiration to other people in a similar situation.
Two of them took part in the final on Saturday night, which was won by Italy.
Manizha is representing Russia. She fled Tajikistan in 1994 during the conflict and is now a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and advocate for the refugee cause speaking out for refugees everywhere.
Speaking before the final Manizha said: “You know, it’s really important to say about these things because we have so many refugees around us and we need to support them because I think that I’m a good refugee.
“I help my country and I love my country. That’s why I think that we need to get more education for them, more appreciation for that. So, Eurovision Song Contest made it for Tusse, for me and for one of the dancers.”
Tousin China, known as “Tusse”, is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is a musician and singer and was representing Sweden at this year’s ESC. He was granted asylum in Sweden after spending three years in a refugee camp in Uganda. Tusse openly shares his experience in overcoming challenges of settling in and adapting to new situations, helping empower young people facing similar difficulties, and was delighted to be on the stage.
“The song is about hope and strength and perseverance and to just believe in yourself. And that everybody’s voices matter and everybody’s voices should be heard and deserve to be heard.”
A third singer helped by UNHCR was Dutch ballet dancer Ahmad Joudeh who was there for the interval of the second semi-final on 20 May.
UNHCR say they hope it will remind the world that everyone can contribute to society through their talents.