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Citizenship

This Is the Flag of the Refugee Olympic Team

The 2016 Olympics in Rio will feature, for the first time, a team of refugees. The 10 athletes come from all around the world — Syria, South Sudan, Congo — but they no longer have a set nationality.

They’re representing more than 65 million displaced people who are seeking safety and opportunity but too often find walls and hostility.

A nation of 65 million would be the 22nd most populous country on Earth — more people than in the UK, Italy, South Africa, Spain, and 170 other countries.

Read More: Meet the Athletes of the First-Ever All-Refugee Team

This collection of people come from different backgrounds, but they share similar values, and all want the same thing: a peaceful future.

A Syrian refugee, Yara Said, watched the formation of the Olympic team and felt compelled to create a flag for the team, a symbol of unity for everyone to celebrate.

She was inspired by the orange and black life jackets that have become such a potent symbol of the Syrian refugee crisis — the vests worn by hordes of desperate men, women, and children, crammed into flimsy boats, hoping to reach the shore.

Read More: Your Global Citizen Guide to Watching the Olympics

The flag she created is orange with a horizontal strip of black — as a flag the colors evoke resilience.

She wrote a letter that the athletes received with a version of the flag.

“I know how hard it is to be a refugee and face really hard circumstances. That’s why you refugee athletes competing at the Olympic Games should be really, really proud of yourselves. You’re all examples for other people. You’re proving now that human beings are really strong creatures. The flag is my sincere tribute to you, and all refugees in the world.”