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Allen & Overy lawyers and clients experience refugee simulation to better understand the plight of the displaced


With more than 65.6 million people displaced worldwide, of which 21.3 million are refugees, and 45.8 million people in some form of modern slavery, lawyers from our Hong Kong office recently invited clients to join two events to raise awareness of the immense challenges that refugees and victims of slavery are currently facing.

To see for themselves what the life of a refugee might feel like, a large group of Allen & Overy’s clients and staff “stepped into the shoes” of refugees by taking part in Crossroads Foundation’s ‘Global X-perience’ Refugee Run programme, a realistic simulation of being a displaced person. Designed by refugees, internally displaced persons and NGOs, the simulation aims to help participants understand some of the struggles and choices refugees face each day. The struggle just to survive is overwhelming. Many people came away deeply impacted by their experience.

  • “I had not anticipated how much this would impact all of us in just one hour. Since then I have not stopped thinking about the various stories on the lives of refugees and how we could help.” (Aurelie Leconte, BNP Paribas)
  • “The experience of the Refugee Run…highlighted how essential things like food, security and shelter are so easily taken for granted when you have them. We complain about the weather or the service in a restaurant when on the other side of the world there are 66 million people suffering from lack of food, shelter, security and medicine. We should all do more to support refugees.” (Gerald Chen, Goodman)
  • “It was amazing to see so many people interested in the topic and willing to take time to participate in a very powerful experience.” (Sarah Cheong, Credit Suisse)
  • “It was certainly a very moving day that I think none of us will ever forget.” (Jon Witts, BNP Paribas)

The second event was a thought-provoking panel discussion where friends from Allen & Overy’s global charity partner War Child, as well as from Crossroads Foundation and Liberty Asia, shared their insights into the plight of those impacted both in Asia and globally, what they are doing to alleviate their suffering and what we can all do to help. The attendees came away with a deeper understanding of the issues and were inspired to continue the discussion in their own organisations as to how they could support these NGOs further and also raise awareness more generally of these critical issues. Archana Kotecha, Head of Legal at Liberty Asia commented “Our destination will be closer because we are all making the journey together.”

For more information on our partner charities and CSR initiatives in Hong Kong, please contact our Head of Pro Bono and Community Investment, Catherine Husted.




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