Brazil Shines Light On Syria Refugee Crisis At Olympic Torch Relay

After starting a new life in São Paulo in 2015 under a humanitarian program run by the Brazilian government, 12-year-old Syrian refugee Hanan Khaled Daqqah was bestowed with the honor of carrying the Olympic Torch during the age-old relay ceremony.

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“I was so happy to carry the Olympic Torch because I would never have imagined that this could happen,” she told on Tuesday (May 3). “It was a very special moment. I love the Brazilian people, I feel Brazilian myself.”

Hanan, who fled her war-torn nation of Syria before settling in a crowded apartment in São Paulo, was hand-picked by Rio 2016 after the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Brazil recommended her.

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“The Olympic Games are an international event which represent unity, solidarity, respect and peace between peoples,” said the president of Brazil’s national committee for refugees (Conare), Beto Vasconcelos. “Therefore it’s an opportunity to call attention to the sad human drama of the worst humanitarian crisis in 70 years.”