KUWAIT: UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Alghanim Industries yesterday signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) to educate Syrian refugees in MENA region through various key programs.
This took place following a high-level panel discussion held at UN House in Mishref on the role of Kuwait’s private sector in humanitarian response to the refugee crisis in the MENA region. During her opening speech, head of the UNHCR office in Kuwait Dr Hanan Hamdan stressed the importance of supporting the private sector in Kuwait for humanitarian operations, pointing at the vital role of this sector to alleviate the suffering of refugees in the region.
Hamdan noted that the Government of Kuwait has been very generous in supporting the refugees, and the support of the private sector will increase the impact of Kuwait in preserving the dignity of refugees and provide them with sustainable opportunities to meet the increasing humanitarian needs. “Kuwait has always been a supporter of the refugee issue through donations and implementation of several international solidarity conferences to support them. Kuwait has hosted three international donors to support the humanitarian situation in Syria and nine meetings with major donors to support the international humanitarian response to the crisis in Syria,” she said.
She added that the Kuwaiti private sector is a very promising sector, adding that they cooperated with private companies for almost a year. “Now we have cooperation with three companies: Zain, Agility and Alghanim Industries, and there is an undergoing discussion with other companies to cooperate with.”
Omar Al-Ghanim, CEO of Alghanim Industries, said that participating in this event and signing the memorandum of understanding with the UNHCR is a long awaited step. “We appreciate the efforts of UNHCR, relief agencies and other governments in this area, but as a private sector, we have a key role to play that can make a big difference for refugees in the region.”
He stressed that the private sector, including Alghanim Industries, should be more active “and the opportunity is right for all of us to start changing our mindset about a crisis.” Ghanim added that hundreds of thousands of Syrian children suffer from lack of access to education. “Today, we face the risk of creating a whole generation of Syrian children without the skills, confidence, support and ability to build their future. Marketing with a humanitarian aspect to support the education of Syrian refugee children, will provide financial assistance to the educational activities of Syrian refugees, and we will continue our role as advocates of change during these difficult times.”
Ghanim explained that Alghanim Industries’ project to support Syrian refugees in the field of education is based on providing good teachers for refugees because when they return to their country, the Syrians can contribute to the reconstruction of their state.
“The humanitarian cost of the war in Syria is great,” said Tariq Sultan, Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of Agility. “There are more than five million refugees and more than six million internally displaced people in Syria. Agility, like many other companies, has supported people in need. 285 families were cared for as part of UNHCR’s cash assistance program to donate logistics to transport relief supplies to refugees in Greece and Jordan.”
He added, “as for the role of the private sector, we are seeking to provide funds to support people in the field, in addition to working within our network and encouraging the community to respond to the crisis, within the coordination between civil society and what we can offer through goods and involve people in various programs.”
Houssam Chahine, Senior Private Sector Partnerships Officer (MENA), UNHCR, affirmed that there is a great scope for partnership with the private sector, adding that the United Nations worked two years ago focusing on cooperation with companies in the private sector to deliver the message through several networks.
“This year, the Commission launched a unique initiative with multiple partnerships, the most important being the contribution of individuals and companies financially. The UN relies on transparency with this sector. We seek to raise awareness among the refugees about the importance of education so that the future of a generation of refugees will not be available, and the second is the monetary support program, where the United Nations is working to mobilize supporters from all over the world to provide cash support,” he said.
By Faten Omar