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US tech companies pledge $650 million to aid refugees

Over 50 leading US tech companies, including Microsoft and Google, have pledged more than $650 million for the education and employment of 6.3 million refugees including children in 20 countries.

By: | Houston | Published: September 23, 2016 3:23 PM
Microsoft, TripAdvisor, HP and Google along with 47 other companies will help more than 80,000 children in refugee camps to get an education under a government initiative, US President Barack Obama said at the UN Leaders Summit on Refugees. (Thinkstock) Microsoft, TripAdvisor, HP and Google along with 47 other companies will help more than 80,000 children in refugee camps to get an education under a government initiative, US President Barack Obama said at the UN Leaders Summit on Refugees. (Thinkstock)

Over 50 leading US tech companies, including Microsoft and Google, have pledged more than $650 million for the education and employment of 6.3 million refugees including children in 20 countries.

Microsoft, TripAdvisor, HP and Google along with 47 other companies will help more than 80,000 children in refugee camps to get an education under a government initiative, US President Barack Obama said at the UN Leaders Summit on Refugees.

“You have companies like Accenture, Western Union, and LinkedIn that are going to help with internships, skills training and job placement,” he said. “Today’s commitment means that we’re going to be creating employment opportunities for more than 220,000 refugees.”

The companies are “investing, donating, or raising” more than $650 million for the education, training and employment of 6.3 million refugees in 20 countries.

“For these companies to put themselves out there on behalf of the most vulnerable citizens in the world is an extraordinary gesture of compassion,” Obama said.

The UN estimates that in 2015 alone, conflicts and persecution “forcibly displaced” 65.3 million people worldwide, the biggest forced displacement since World War II.

The world body has classified 21.3 million of them as refugees. The sheer enormity of those numbers placed a heavy burden on just 10 countries, Obama said.

In June, the White House unveiled an initiative aimed at getting “measurable and significant commitments” from the private sector and 15 companies had signed up for it then. The list released on Tuesday showed the number had gone up to 51.

Google said it will also contribute a $1 million grant to the Clooney Foundation for Justice, established by actor George Clooney and his wife, Amal, to help educate Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.

Microsoft plans to team with local providers to deliver wireless broadband to refugees and international aid groups in Malawi, and is teaming with HP to provide tech training in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan which will lead to certifications to qualify them for worker visa programmes instead of making them go through the more laborious government refugee process.

Microsoft said it will expand partnerships with the UN and NGOs to expand Arabic-to-German language education, support counseling programmes and provide technological education to refugees.

Facebook promised to bring Wi-Fi connectivity to 35 locations in Greece, a first point of landing for many refugees, as well as to refugee camps in other places, while HP promised to bring education technology to six places where it could reach refugees throughout Lebanon and Jordan.

LinkedIn said it will expand its refugee recruitment programme, Welcoming Talent, beyond its initial launch in Sweden. Twitter promised $50,000 in advertising grants to NGOs that help refugees while Uber said it will help refugees find employment as Uber drivers and help them lease cars.

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