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Message from UNHCR Filippo Grandi

Last Updated: 2018.04.25
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A worsening crisis

The region facing the most critical situation with regard to refugees is Africa. Aside from the eight conflicts engulfing that region, there are two major crises in Asia. One of them is Afghanistan -- a country that continues to deal with hardship along with a significant population of second-generation of refugees who were born in refugee camps. Another is Bangladesh, where there are thousands of Rohingya refugees that have fled from Myanmar. Globally, we estimate that more than 66 million people have had to abandon their homeland due to civil war, conflict, violence, or persecution.

The refugee crisis is also undergoing heated debate in more affluent countries such as the United States, Australia, and the countries in Europe. Unfortunately some have cast the refugee crisis in a negative light for their own political gain. We should never forget that refugees are people fleeing danger or persecution, requiring our help and protection until they can safely go back to their homes.

Seeking support from the corporate sector

UNHCR works with every country with the needs of refugees in mind first and foremost. The situation is becoming more serious, and increasingly, governments and aid agencies cannot address the challenges alone. We are looking for greater involvement from the corporate sector and the resources that they can provide. Global companies often have the ability to employ refugees and promote awareness of their plight. They also have the resources to alleviate problems, and have expertise in fields such as distribution and IT. We hope more companies can make a difference by leveraging their strengths.

Applauding Fast Retailing's support

Our collaboration with Fast Retailing sets a good example for other companies to follow. Fast Retailing supports refugees not just financially, but also through the efforts of their employees, business partners and customers. The All-Product Recycling initiative is a good example.

Not only do UNIQLO and GU make efforts to raise refugee awareness among their employees and customers, but they support refugees by donating their products. Fast Retailing also provides work experience programs for refugees that lead to employment.

The company believes that refugees are a precious human resource, and they employ a total of 57 refugees in Japan, Germany, and France (as of October, 2017). Fast Retailing plans to increase the number of refugee employees to 100. Since 2011, Fast Retailing has encouraged its employees to participate in refugee support programs with UNHCR staff members. These types of initiatives improve refugee's lives.

We hope every Fast Retailing employee can further raise awareness of refugees among the customers, or even their family and friends, to develop new and innovative solutions that address the challenges refugees face.

Coming together to make a difference

Lastly, we would like to remind you that refugees face some of the greatest difficulties in the world. They are just like us. However, they have had to leave everything behind: their home, jobs or school, their friends or loved ones. Refugees are not a threat. They are people who have fled dangerous or life-threatening circumstances and require our help. We truly hope more people will understand their story, and find ways to take part in refugee support programs like those undertaken by the private sector or other organizations. Programs like those supported by Fast Retailing.

Filippo Grandi (right) and Fast Retailing CEO Tadashi Yanai

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