World Refugee Day 2017: Companies take action in support of rights

"Refugees Welcome" by Leif Hinrichsen licensed under CC BY 2.0.

On 20 June 2017, World Refugee Day, we are highlighting examples of positive action taken by companies in 2017, to promote and protect the rights of refugees around the world. From training and employment, and building mobile information platforms, to supporting positive legislation, this story contains a number of examples where civil society and business are collaborating on initiatives driving refugee integration and protection.

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Article
21 June 2017

Google, Microsoft & Trip Advisor fund Refugee.Info product, providing accurate information to refugees crossing Europe

“Google And Trip Advisor Partner With International Rescue Committee To Help Refugees”, 17 May 2017

[P]rivate organisations and charities, with the help of technology…are doing more than governments and many individuals in alleviating…[the] suffering [of]… refugees crossing…Europe…from the ongoing, and seemingly never-ending, Syrian crisis. Organisations such at Techfugees, REFUNITE and the Refugees First Response Center are all doing awesome work…Another organisation that is…helping is the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and its Refugee.Info product. This provides a useful, almost vital, source of information for refugees who travel by land along the Balkan route. Refugee.Info encompasses an app, a website and a Facebook page, all designed to ensure that refugees have as much information as possible about their route and destination…It is funded by Google, Microsoft and Trip Advisor and is built by the IRC's tech unit in partnership with Mercy Corps… With a team of information specialists based in Athens, Belgrade, Paris and Berlin, refugee.info answers refugees’ questions and provides information on every available service to them.  It is deliberately designed for those with limited resources – both dollars and bandwidth. The app can be used both online and offline – essential  where WiFi access is unreliable or unavailable. Its deliberately low bandwidth means refugees can save as much phone credit as possible.

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Article
21 June 2017

Starbucks to hire 2,500 refugees in its European coffee shops despite backlash

Author: Sara Spary, BuzzFeed

"Starbucks Will Hire 2,500 Refugees To Work In Its European Coffee Shops Despite Backlash", 20 Jun 2017

Starbucks will hire 2,500 refugees to work in its stores across Europe within five years as part of a worldwide policy, despite a US backlash over its plans, the coffee chain has confirmed. It said on Tuesday it will aim to recruit 2,500 refugees to work in eight European countries: the UK, France, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and the Netherlands. It will work with NGOs including the Refugee Council and the International Rescue Committee to deliver the jobs, and has not given a breakdown per country. The move is part of a plan to recruit 10,000 refugees worldwide – a small percentage of its more than 250,000 employees. It also announced today that 1,000 of these will be in Canada. The worldwide pledge was first announced in January and caused a backlash from some consumers in the US who called for a boycott using the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks....The coffee retail sector relies heavily on migrant labour from Europe, a recent study by research firm Allegra Insights said. In March, Pret a Manger told a committee of MPs that just 1 in 50 applicants for jobs at the chain were British...

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Item
20 June 2017

Ben & Jerry's joins Intl. Rescue Committee in support of EU legislation to provide safe & legal routes for refugees

Author: Ben & Jerry's

"Together for refugees: Home safe home", Jun 2017

Imagine closing your front door behind you without knowing if you’ll ever be able to return. For many, this has become all too real. Right now, record numbers of people around the world are being forced to flee their homes due to war and violence. We’re teaming up with the International Rescue Committee to call on our fans to support a historic piece of legislation that would help refugees resettle safely in Europe. Just ONE email from you could make all the difference. Sometimes the news can feel overwhelming, making it all too easy to turn away. But right now, we’re facing a defining moment. The historic legislation currently being discussed by the European Union could provide safe and legal routes for vulnerable refugees to reach safety and rebuild their lives. The legislation, aka the ‘Union Resettlement Framework’, gives our leaders an opportunity to come together and agree on a coordinated, humanitarian response to the refugee crisis. With a focus on resettling those most vulnerable, it will allow us to help more people rebuild their future by welcoming them through a safe and legal route...and removing the need for dangerous journeys...

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Article
20 June 2017

Google supports Intl. Rescue Committee & Mercy Corps to build “Crisis Info Hub” for refugees

Author: Google

"Google - Crisis Response - International Rescue Committee: Refugee Crisis", May 2017

As a result of Syria’s emergency evacuation in September 2015, Google volunteers worked with the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps to launch a “Crisis Info Hub” for refugees…a mobile platform…[that]…provide[s] refugees with credible information.  The hub provided critical information about safe movement, legal rights, and trustworthy services in Greece and the Balkans. Now called Refugee.Info, the platform aggregates and publishes location-based information about rights and services available to refugees and asylum seekers.  Refugee.Info is live in Greece and Serbia and will soon expand to more countries in the Balkans, the Central Mediterranean, and the Middle East.  To date, Refugee.Info has attracted more than 205,000 visitors and has housed information from 18 different countries.  Additionally, the Refugee.Info team maintains a robust presence on social media to disseminate information quickly and interact with users directly.

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Article
20 June 2017

Microsoft programmes support efforts for refugee integration across Western Europe

Author: Michel Van de Bel, Microsoft EMEA

"World Refugee Day: many small things make a big difference", 20 Jun 2017

The refugee crisis we are...facing involves the biggest movement of people and displacement of lives since World War Two…We’re putting too many people at risk of unemployment if we don’t find new ways to upskill current generations for the jobs of tomorrow…[W]e] have a number of programmes across Europe that have already been running to support the integration efforts of refugees.  In Germany…we launched a new version of our Schlaumäuse language-learning app, designed to help migrant children learn German quickly and easily…In Italy, Microsoft is working with Fondazione Mondo Digitale...to help refugees develop their digital skills…In Denmark, we recently hosted a comprehensive workshop for over 100 refugees looking to get back on track with their careers…As part of a broader partnership with Mercy Corps, we also provide funding to the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps in support of their app, Refugee.Info…In Western European countries specifically, we’ve launched a three-year commitment to matching employee donations to eligible NGOs that address the refugee crisis…World Refugee Day is timely reminder for us to do as much as we can, to drive a positive and lasting change.

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Article
16 May 2017

IKEA to employ Syrian refugees at production centers in Jordan

Author: Marcus Fairs

“IKEA aims to take 200,000 people out of poverty in massive social sustainability drive”, 18 April 2017

IKEA is to employ refugees at production centres in Jordan this summer as part of a long-term plan to create employment for 200,000 disadvantaged people around the world through social entrepreneurship programmes. The centres in Jordan, which should be operational by August, will employ a mixture of Syrian refugees and Jordanians in the production of woven products including rugs, cushions and bedspreads. IKEA will build and equip the production centres, in which skilled craftspeople will work on handmade items.

The Swedish furniture giant is partnering with Jordan River Foundation, a non-governmental organisation established by Jordan's Queen Rania, which will manage the facilities and employ 100 people to start with, rising to 400 people within two years. Half will be refugees and half local workers…"Two-hundred thousand is our long-term ambition," said Jesper Brodin, IKEA's head of range and supply. "It may take 10-15 years. We want these people to be our future suppliers."…The centres will be located in and around Amman in northern Jordan, close to refugee camps strung along the border with Syria, from where an estimated 1.3 million refugees have poured since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011. "It's important that it's not only geared towards the refugees," Brodin explained. "We're also making sure that this benefits the Jordan population as well."

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Article
1 May 2017

IKEA to provide job training to refugees in Spain

Author: UNHCR News

"This IKEA store in Madrid is like no other", 1 May 2017

For more than five weeks, selected refugees have had the chance to learn all aspects of working for multinational furniture company IKEA in the Spanish capital, Madrid. The unique training programme gives refugees like Ruba, an architect from Syria, and Maria a former bank employee from Ukraine, hands on training at the store, which sells ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories.  Once they complete the work experience programme, participants will be able to apply for jobs with IKEA as a first step towards integrating into the Spanish workforce.

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Article
30 January 2017

Airbnb offers free housing to refugees & anyone impacted by President Trump's immigration ban

Author: Leigh Gallagher, Fortune (US)

"President Trump Wants to Keep Them Out. Airbnb Is Inviting Them In", 30 Jan 2017

...“Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected,” Chesky tweeted Saturday night, before announcing that [Airbnb] would provide free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the U.S. by the order...Chesky also sent an all-hands email to employees Saturday night: “This is a policy that I profoundly disagree with and it is a direct obstacle to our mission at Airbnb...We believe that you should be able to travel to and live in any community around the world...If we want this to be more than just something we put on a plaque, we have to take action."...Chesky said the company had reached out to employees who were impacted and those who work in the U.S. on visas or green cards to say they had the “unwavering support of everyone at this company.” The company has been active in refugee relief efforts since 2015...offering free housing to relief workers in Greece, Serbia and Macedonia...added a donation tool to its website where members of its platform could contribute...piloting other programs, like a “livelihood” program in Jordan that helps refugees living in camps earn income by giving tours and providing other “local experiences” to travelers visiting Jordan...

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