By Sara Al-Mezeal
KUWAIT, April 19 (KUNA) -- UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Alghanim Industries on Wednesday 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 the UNCHR Kuwait headquarters on the role of Kuwait's private sector in humanitarian response to the refugee crisis in the MENA region.
The dicussion was mainly attended by Head of UNHCR Kuwait office Dr. Hanan Hamdan, CEO of Alghanim Industries Omar Al-Ghanim, UNHCR's Head of Private Sector Partnership in MENA Houssam Chahine and CEO of Agility Tareq Sultan.
The MoU targets those who need help the most and ensure that refugee children's education needs are addressed through outreach volunteers, homework support groups, parent engagement and foreign language groups for 10,000 Syrian children in Lebanon.
The MoU aims to retain Syrian children in the Lebanese national education system via second shifts which are operating especially for them in most public schools, and to bring back some of those who dropped out.
In addition to its programs, the MoU reflects Alghanim Industries' ongoing dedication to support the UNHCR that has been a leader in many initiatives, playing a key role in raising awareness in the private sector in specific areas.
It also focuses on what private sector can do to become more involved, the impact of the refugee crisis on the region, not just from a geopolitical sense, but also from an economic perspective. Moreover, it seeks to help the refugees attain education and empower them to overcome their immediate and long-term challenges.
Speaking at the panel discussion, Dr Hanan elaborated on the role of the private sector in Kuwait in alleviating suffering of 65 million refugees around the world; 21.3 million of them are under the age of 18.
The Syrian crisis has been the biggest since the second world war, where there are more than five million Syrian refugees suffering from very bad conditions, she said.
Kuwait, namely His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, has greatly contributed to easing off the sufferings of refugees, with contributions reaching USD 1.6 billion, USD 360 million of them were for the UNHCR during the period from 2013 to 2016, she added.
The UNHCR office in Kuwait started to cooperate with the private sector such as Alghanim Industries, Agility and Zain, where this event came with an initiative from CEO Al-Ghanim Industries Omar Al-Ghanim.
For his part, Al-Ghanim said participating in this event and signing MoU with UNHCR is a huge but overdue step.
The Syrian refugees' situation has been painful to witness and tragic for them to live through, he said, adding that the private sector has 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, and there is an opportunity here to start changing mindsets about a crisis that is not 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," he confirmed.
Alghanim Industries will organize Cause Related Marketing campaigns in support of education for Syrian refugee children, and will provide financial aid for educational activities for Syrian refugees, he said.
For his part, CEO of Agility Tareq Sultan said, "Agility like many other companies has tried to support people in need: From sponsoring 285 families as a part of UNHCR's cash assistance program to donating logistics to move relief supplies to refugees in Greece and Jordan." Sultan indicated that he aspired to see multiple companies working together, engaging with the UNHCR and the private sector for relieving the regugees. More than 60 million persons fall under the mandate of UNHCR, around 20 million are refugees. More than five million, registered as Syrian refugees with UNHCR, are one of the organization's main focus with prioritized programmers such as protection, cash assistance, shelter, healthcare and education. (end) ss