The missing piece in solving the refugee humanitarian crisis is the private sector
One year ago, then-US president Obama hosted a United Nations roundtable on the refugee crisis with US business leaders. He spoke about the vital role companies must play to address the crisis. In the year since, the role of the private sector has only grown more important, as the number of refugees has swelled—22.5 million by the last official count, up by another 1.2 million from the year before. The number is rapidly expanding as many hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled South Sudan and Myanmar in the last couple of months alone, even as some governments, including the US government, have sought to cut refugee admissions and reduce funding to the UN Refugee Agency.
It’s clear that the private sector, especially multinational businesses, have a stake in addressing the refugee crisis. With supply chains that span the globe, the stability of major refugee-hosting countries—from Turkey to Kenya to Bangladesh—is not an esoteric concern. Business leaders also understand that hardening public attitudes to immigrants and refugees often threaten trade and their bottom line (see: Brexit). They also know that their customers and employees increasingly expect businesses to stand for certain values, and that they can enhance their brand by doing so. But, most of all, business leaders have an interest in creating a better world.
Photo courtesy of Natalia Cieslik.