As the global refugee crisis continues to deepen, the UN Global Compact, in partnership with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and with the support of other UN entities, civil society and NGO organisations, are calling on companies to take action to diminish the suffering of people forced to flee conflict and support solutions for the resulting widespread societal disruption.
According to UNHCR, 60 million people, including 19.5 million refugees, have been displaced by conflict and over 410,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and other countries so far this year. Understanding that the primary responsibility for peace rests with Governments, the urgency of the global refugee crisis is a challenge that requires support from all actors in society – including business.
In Australia, we are pleased to see the recent launch of the Friendly Nation Initiative, focused on engaging Australian businesses to support the settlement of 12,000 Syrian refugees. The initiative aims to sign up over 100 business leaders and encourage them to take action such as offering refugees employment and training, and broader support to help with settlement and skill development.
The UN Global Compact encourages businesses to explore the various ways they can contribute:
- Core business Addressing the refugee crisis through a company’s core business operations, including internal procedures, human resources hiring practices, training, sourcing policies, supply chains, as well as the development of products and services appropriate for refugees.
- Social investment and philanthropy. Financial contributions, relief items and strategic social investment support for NGOs, UN and multilateral agencies or directly to affected communities and/or contributing functional expertise through volunteering efforts.
- Advocacy and public policy engagement. Fostering social cohesion and inter-group dialogue and relationship-building in the workplace, marketplace and community.
- Partnership and collective action. Joining forces with Governments, UN entities, civil society organisations and/or other businesses to act collectively find solutions to the refugee crisis and forge long-term partnerships for regional economic and sustainable development.