- 20 April 2017
UNHCR and Alghanim Industries Conclude a High-Level Panel Discussion on the Role of Private Sector in Humanitarian Response to Refugee Crises
Kuwait City, 20 April 2017: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and Alghanim Industries today concluded a high-level panel discussion on the role of Kuwait’s private sector in humanitarian response to refugee crises in the MENA region. The panel was opened with a speech by Dr. Hanan Hamdan, Head of UNHCR Kuwait Office, and featured key private sector leaders and philanthropists in Kuwait, including Mr. Omar Alghanim, CEO of Alghanim Industries, ,and Mr. Houssam Chahin UNHCR’s Head of Private Sector Partnerships in MENA, and Mr.Tarek Sultan, CEO of Agility.
Given the magnitude of the current refugee and humanitarian crises in the region, UNHCR has been addressing regional humanitarian challenges and needs through ‘non-traditional’ humanitarian actors, primarily the private sector through socially responsible businesses and philanthropic business leaders. In recent years, the private sector has been increasingly important in responding to humanitarian emergencies, contributing to more than eight percent of the organization’s overall funding.
Panel discussed the methods of private sector engagement while closely examining the active involvement of Kuwait’s private sector in the humanitarian response to refugee crisis in the region. Commitment to multiyear of advocacy and financial activities such as cause related marketing campaigns which engages consumers in the cause are one innovative form of engagement, on that Mr. Omar Alghanim said "Today is an important day for Alghanim Industries, and an important one for me on a personal level. Participating in this event and signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the UNHCR is a huge step, which is long overdue. The Syrian refugees’ situation has been painful for us to witness – and tragic for them to live through, day after day. I appreciate the UNHCR’s efforts and those of other aid agencies and governments. But I believe that we, in the private sector, have a key role to play and can make a big difference for refugees in the region. The business community needs to be more proactive – and that includes Alghanim Industries. There is an opportunity for all of us here, to start changing mindsets about a crisis that isn’t going away."
He added: "Hundreds of thousands of Syrian children of school age are missing out on education. We are in danger of creating an entire generation of Syrian children without the skills, confidence, support and resilience to build a livelihood for the future. As per our commitment and the MOU we signed today, Alghanim Industries will organize Cause Related Marketing campaigns in support of education for Syrian refugee children, and will provide financial aid for education activities for Syrian refugees and continue our role as advocates for change, during these challenging times."
On this, Tarek Sultan, CEO of Agility said: "The humanitarian cost of the war in Syria is deep. More than 5 million people are refugees and more than 6 million are internally displaced. Agility, like many other companies, has tried to support people in need: from sponsoring 285 families as part of UNHCR’s cash assistance program to donating logistics to move relief supplies to refugees in Greece and Jordan. However, we believe that for bigger impact, we need to think big. We would love to see multiple companies working together to provide scale: and that’s our hope for engaging with UNHCR and with the Kuwaiti private sector today."
Emphasizing the importance of the private sector’s support to humanitarian operations, Dr. Hanan Hamdan, Head of UNHCR Kuwait, said: "The role of private sector is vital to alleviate the suffering of refugees in the region. The government of Kuwait has been very generous in supporting refugees, and we are confident that support from the private sector and philanthropists will magnify the overall impact of the State of Kuwait at preserving the dignity of refugees and IDPs. While the MENA region continues to pose overwhelming challenges, with multiple and complex emergency situations, it also presents us with sustainable opportunities to fulfill increasing aid needs especially as violence and instability in countries such as Syria, Iraq and Yemen triggers new waves of displacement.."
The State of Kuwait has been an avid supporter of the refugee cause through the provision of significant donations, implementation of vital projects, and globalizing international solidarity and support for refugees. Kuwait has previously hosted three international humanitarian pledging conferences, and nine top donors' meetings in support of the international humanitarian response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Kuwait also co-hosted the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in 2016, during which the country pledged US$300 million in support of the Syria Humanitarian Response over the next three years. By 2016, the State of Kuwait had provided a contribution of US$ 360 million to UNHCR for the Syria and Iraq crises. In 2015, the state of Kuwait held the position of largest donor per capita and was UNHCR’s sixth largest donor globally.
More than 60 million persons fall under the mandate of UNHCR, around 20 million of which are refugees. More than 5 million registered Syrian refugees with UNHCR are one of the organization’s main focus, with prioritized programs such as protection, cash assistance, shelter, healthcare, and education.