Business leaders join UN refugee agency on factfinding trip to East Africa

UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Wendy Chamberlin will travel on a five-day mission visiting refugee camps and UNHCR projects in Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi, accompanied by senior officials from Manpower, Nike, Merck, Microsoft and Pricewaterhouse Coopers.“The aim of next week’s mission is to give business leaders an opportunity to learn more about UNHCR’s work in East Africa and the Great Lakes, as well as to see for themselves the impact of their involvement on the daily life of refugees,” UNHCR Spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told reporters in Geneva.“The five corporations are part of UNHCR’s Council of Business Leaders, set up last year in Davos to build additional bridges between the corporate and the humanitarian communities.” The Swiss city of Davos is home to the annual World Economic Forum.The role of the Council is to advise UNHCR on the best strategies to capitalize on existing joint projects and to develop new and innovative public-private partnerships. The Council also aims to raise awareness of refugee issues in the business world.“As well as visiting refugee camps in Kenya and Tanzania, the delegation will follow a convoy bringing refugees from Tanzania back home to Burundi,” Ms. Pagonis said.There are more than 240,000 refugees in Kenya, the majority from Somalia and Sudan. Tanzania is home to more than 400,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi. In Burundi itself, UNHCR is running reintegration projects for some 300,000 people who have returned from exile – most of them from Tanzania – since 2002.UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres returned from a one-week mission to the Great Lakes region on Monday, calling on the international community for “a bigger engagement in the years and months to come” in the impoverished region. read more