U.S. Companies to Address Syrian Refugee Crisis

Since the start of the Syria’s civil war five years ago, nearly 11 million people have been displaced from their homes. Despite the European Union’s increased efforts to grant asylum, less than 10% of all refugees have been accounted for, and 70% of allocated funding remains to be seen. More than 15 U.S. companies are now responding to this crisis, pledging their public commitment at this week’s United Nations Refugee Summit.

The private companies will partner with nonprofits to provide a wide range of aid and services to those in need. TripAdvisor has pledged $5 million to fund job training opportunities in the U.S. and youth education at refugee camps in Greece, where thousands of families await asylum. The company also plans to collaborate with Google to expand RefugeeInfo.eu, which provides refugees with guidance regarding emergency contacts, legal aid, and lodging. HP committed over $1 million to technology efforts, and will work with Microsoft and Intel to create training centers in Jordan and Lebanon. Airbnb has launched a matching donation campaign for up to $1 million, while J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Western Union have donated millions towards medical care, food, and other essential aid. Amanda Sellers, a senior vice president at the International Rescue Committee, is confident that “our private partners can work faster than governments” in times of emergency.

Other companies, such as Starwood Hotels and MasterCard, are finding ways to assist refugees and further their business interests at the same time. Starwood plans to hire refugees in 19 cities across the United States, while MasterCard has provided refugees with access to prepaid debit cards. Although Starwood’s associate director of community partnerships Kristin Meyer acknowledges that “we do sometimes need to increase up-front training for our refugee recruits, the dedication and passion they bring to the job definitely outweighs that investment.”

SyrianRefugees.eu is a project of the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute in Florence, which provides critical data and portrays a holistic representation of the region’s refugee crisis. Watch the UN Refugee Summit online or read more in The Wall Street Journal and Co.Exist.