T H E
D I S P L A C E D
Around the world, a record 65.6 million people have been driven from their homes. It's time to rethink how we help them
Contents In this issue....
Lost at sea
The Mediterranean is the world’s most lethal border crossing, with more than 2,500 migrants killed or missing this year alone after attempting the journey to Europe. In this issue, we meet the NGOs battling to save those at sea
The Moment��������������������������� � � � � � � � � � � � � p08 Need to Know������������������������� � � � � � � � � � � � � � p10 Life Lessons �������������������������� � � � � � � � � � � � � � p12 Global Eye ���������������������������� � � � � � � � � � � � � � � p14 One Day �������������������������������� � � � � � � � � � � � � � p16 Comment ������������������������������ � � � � � � p20 / 80 The Next Step ������������������������ � � � � � � � � � � � � p85
From the web
An invisible people ����������������������������� p30
In the loop � ����������������������������������������� p50
Every second of every day, someone is forced to flee their home. Displacement is the world's greatest unseen crisis. It's time to invest in solving it
Can tech entrepreneurs help reboot the way the world responds to a refugee crisis? Meet the companies hoping to usher in a digital era of aid
By royal appointment�������������������������� p46
Building a future � �������������������������������� p56
The UAE's Big Heart Foundation gives $4m each year to help Middle Eastern families. Director Mariam Al Hammadi explains how they make every dollar count
While millions of Syrians wait for the opportunity to return home, one charity is laying the groundwork for regeneration and bringing hope for the future
YOUR GUIDE TO GCC GIVING
Ahead of the launch of the 2017 Arab Giving Survey, revisit the trends that have led, shaped and changed Gulf philanthropy over the past two years
A working solution ������������������������������ p62
The new Canadian dream Businessman Jim Estill put up $1.5m to bankroll the resettlement of 58 Syrian refugee families in a small Ontario town. Now, he hopes to encourage others around the world to follow in his footsteps
Refugees can boost host economies – if only they are given the chance to work. We examine the business case for seeing refugees as a benefit, not a burden
From the ashes ���������������������������������� p66 As Palestine marks 50 years of military occupation, we meet the people hoping to write a new story for the generations to come
DOING WELL AND DOING GOOD
Entrepreneur and Epic Foundation founder Alexandre Mars speaks out on the leap from selling startups, to creating social impact
THE NEXT INVESTMENT FRONTIER
At less than a decade old, impact investing is quickly gaining ground. But how can social investments gain a larger share of the financial market?
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Giles Duley is a documentary photographer dedicated to covering the impact of war on those caught in conflict. His work has won global recognition and, in 2013, he was awarded the May Chidiac Award for Bravery in Journalism. In this issue, he discusses the power of photography as a tool for change.
Freelance journalist Jessica Holland has written about global culture, technology and business for outlets including the Guardian, the Independent and Entrepreneur. In this issue she explores why giving refugees the right to work makes economic sense.
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Contributors: Adrienne Cernigoi; Jessica Holland; Adam Grundey; Stuart Matthews; Sean Loose; Nigel Buchanan; Yu-Ming Huang. Images: Getty; MOAS; Giles Duley; Jusoor; Celia Peterson; Magnum Photos; John Marsland; Big Heart Foundation. With thanks to Alserkal Avenue. ISSN: 2305-6525 Distributed by: GLS Media Services Printed by: Emirates Printing Press, Dubai FOUNDER SPONSOR:
Based in Los Angeles, California, Sean Loose is an illustrator and designer who has worked for clients including the Boston Globe, AIGA and the Huffington Post. In this edition, he captures the long, wrenching journeys faced by refugees around the world.
Celia Peterson is a photographer and filmmaker working in the Middle East. Her work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, the Financial Times, Der Spiegel and Monocle. Here, she gives a glimpse of daily life in Palestine, a country marking 50 years of military occupation.
REQUIRES FURTHER WORK
Sheikh Mohammed pledged a futher $30m towards the eradication of polio
THE MOMENT / 12.06.2017
Closing in on zero
Abu Dhabi crown prince backs $1.2bn global drive to beat polio
DONORS INCLUDING THE CROWN PRINCE OF ABU DHABI
have promised $1.2bn to help finish the job of eradicating the paralysing virus polio, putting it on track to be only the second human disease to be erased from the planet. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan joined with the governments of Canada and Japan, the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others to pledge $30m towards the estimated $1.5bn needed to snuff out the last pockets of polio. The money will be spent on vaccination – including reaching children in conflict areas – disease surveillance and other actions key to stopping the spread of the virus. “We are closer than ever to making history,” said Chris Elias, global development president, Gates Foundation. “These new commitments will help ensure that we finish the job.” Polio is a virus that attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours, with children under the age of five most at risk. A global effort has cut polio cases by more than 99 per cent since 1998, and the disease is now close to being only the second in history – after smallpox in 1980 – to be banished. India, historically the biggest barrier to eradication, hasn’t reported a case in more than six years. The virus remains endemic only in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, but imported cases from these countries threaten other developing nations where conflict, poor sanitation and transient populations have hampered vaccine access. Three new cases of polio were confirmed in Syria in June, marking the first reemergence of the virus since 2014. “The key to ending polio will be to ensure that millions of health workers – some of whom work in the most challenging environments in the world – can reach every child, everywhere in the world,” said WHO director-general Margaret Chan. Major pledges included $450m from the Gates Foundation, $75m from Canada, $61.4m from the European Union, and $55m from Japan. Bloomberg Philanthropies, the giving vehicle of US billionaire Michael Bloomberg, promised $25m. “We are, together, truly on the verge of eradicating polio from the planet—but only if we work relentlessly to reach the children we have not yet reached,” said Anthony Lake, director-general of the UN’s children agency UNICEF. “We cannot fail to make this last effort. Because if we do not now make history, we will, and should be, judged harshly by history.”
NEED TO K NOW
“We face many humanitarian challenges, and must think innovatively in order to accelerate philanthropic work” Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum unveils the city’s Humanitarian Accelerators initiative, which aim to uncover technology-driven solutions to social, cutural and environmental challenges in the Arab region
The GCC-backed Lives and Livelihoods Fund has signed a $99m deal with three West African governments to help transform smallholder livestock farming and boost food security across the Sahel region
Some 30,000 women will die from pregnancy-related causes in 2017 alone due to a lack of access to healthcare, money and information in the poor countries they call home, according to the US-based Guttmacher Institute. Globally, 35 million women this year will not give birth in a health facility
Global aid hit a record $27.3bn in 2016, according to data from the UK-based Development Initiatives, but funding from the Middle East fell by a quarter. The US was the biggest global donor, while regional crises and falling oil prices saw humanitarian aid from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia slide by 50 and 26 per cent respectively
The GCC’s 100 largest family firms represent at least $7bn in annual philanthropic capital, but its impact is blunted by a reliance on ad hoc giving, said consultancy Strategy&. A shift to planned, strategic giving could both accelerate economic growth and help solve critical community issues in areas such as healthcare and education
Cholera cases rise
Conflict-hit Yemen is battling a cholera outbreak which has spread to all 22 of the country’s provinces, infecting some 600,000 people and killing at least 2,048 since it began in April. More than 3,000 people are contracting the disease each day, according to the WHO, a result of the collapse of the country’s infrastructure that has left 15.7m people without clean water of sanitation
30,000 15.7M 10
Child marriage will cost poor nations trillions of dollars in the next decade, curbing global efforts to eradicate poverty, the World Bank said. A third of girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18.
Predicted value of private wealth in the Middle East and Africa by 2021
Syrian destruction is just tip of the iceberg, says World Bank THE VISIBLE SCARS OF SYRIA’S WAR
reveal just a fraction of the damage inflicted on the country’s population, according to a World Bank report that warns the conflict has cost Syria $228bn in economic growth. Syria, rocked by six years of conflict, has seen a third of its housing stock and half of education and medical facilities damaged or destroyed, triggering the collapse of the country’s healthcare system and turning cities into ruins. The report estimates that more Syrians are dying from lack of access to healthcare than as a direct result of the fighting, with previously eradicated diseases such as polio reemerging in the country. Dwindling fuel has reduced the supply of power to major cities to two hours a day, interrupting even basic services to residents. “The war is tearing apart the social and economic fabric of the country,” said Hafez Ghanem, World Bank vice president for the Middle East and North Africa. “The number of casualties is devastating, but the war is also destroying the institutes and systems that societies need to function.” The protests that erupted in 2011 against President al-Assad have descended into a civil war that has killed more than
400,000 people and left millions homeless. Syria, once a lower middle-income country with a $60bn GDP buoyed by oil production a nd trade, has su ffered a dra matic contraction, disrupting investments, curbing public spending and destroying productive capacity. The World Bank said six out of 10 Syrians now survive in extreme poverty, with 538,000 jobs destroyed annually since 2014. More than two-thirds of young people are unemployed, the report found. “The fact that 9 million Syrians are not working will have consequences long after the fighting has stopped,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank director for the Mashreq region. “In the future, when Syria needs it most, there will be a collective shortage of vital skills.” If the fighting were to end this year, the economy could close 41 per cent of the gap from its pre-conflict GDP over the following four years, said Harun Onder, World Bank senior economist. “But if the war goes on to a tenth year, less than one third of this gap would be recovered four years after its end,” and losses would equal 13 times Syria’s pre-conflict GDP, he added.
The percentage that will be held by four GCC states, including the UAE and Saudi
The rise in wealth among the UAE’s super-rich households in 2016 *Source: Boston Consulting Group
LIFE LES SONS
Philanthropists and industry insiders share their advice on intelligent giving, and the experience they’ve gained along the way
Success is like a mountain climb. Once you’ve reached the top, it’s your role to pull up those left behind, to go out of your way to find those who may be lost, and to prepare the path so more can climb as well. Be successful, but do something with your success — Alexandre Mars 01
The two biggest dangers I see among wealthy people are fear and entitlement. Fear settles in when you can't part with your money, when you think you need every dollar you own. Entitlement is when you believe that you earned that money, that it is rightfully yours and that it should not serve anyone else. Neither perception is correct.
Successful people are usually vocal advocates of their cause, but too often they become jaded. To keep your energy, you need to face the reality of the causes you support. Seek those you help; visit the shelters you support. Travel to see the impact of your philanthropy. It makes your advocacy more authentic. 03
The word ‘philanthropy’ has a stigma. It often feels like a word for the rich and famous. The word ‘sharing’ also has a stigma, but quite the opposite: nobody wants to be known as selfish. If people could realise that philanthropy means sharing, we’d have many more philanthropists. Sometimes a change of heart comes from a change of words.
Alexandre Mars is a tech entrepreneur and engaged philanthropist who started his first venture at 17. He founded Epic Foundation in 2014 to bridge the gap between a new generation of individual and corporate donors, and organisations supporting children and youth globally.
As you advocate for deeper philanthropy, allow people to not be ready to engage. It is easier to judge than to educate, faster to frown than to smile. Look for the good in everyone: if not giving, what can they do to help? Assume they are capable of goodness, and help them turn it into greatness. 05
04 The value of your wealth is what you make of it. Giving it back to help others is truly the only path to a higher level of happiness. Giving does not take away from your wealth – it adds value to it.
Illustration: Mohammed Khalafalla
When starting a new venture, envision your ultimate goal and then look at the worst-case scenario. Based on the latter, be realistic in assessing if you have the time, resources and capability to achieve your objectives — Ron Bruder 01
Don’t rush. A slower pace gives you the chance to learn the pitfalls while they’re still small and you’re still nimble. I started EFE wanting to build schools. But years of research showed us that demand-driven job training and placement fit a more critical need. 02
Collaborate wisely. A partner with integrity can turn a challenging situation into a success. But a dishonest partner can derail a dream venture and turn it into a nightmare.
When going into an unfamiliar area, local insight is indispensable. Without the 70-plus national leaders serving as EFE affiliate board members in the Middle East and North Africa, we would have pursued many dead ends and missed key opportunities. 03
Ron Bruder is the founder of Education For Employment (EFE), the leading nonprofit network linking unemployed youth to skills and job opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa. A serial entrepreneur, Bruder in 1977 founded The Brookhill Group, which owns and manages properties throughout the US.
Listen to your failures: sometimes they will teach you more than your successes. We would not be operating in eight countries today if we hadn’t failed in our first.
It’s critical that all parties – including your beneficiaries – have skin in the game. Requiring that all stakeholders invest within their capacity produces more earnest and sustainable engagement.
REFUGEES ARE NOT STATISTICS. YET THEIR STORIES
GLOBAL E YE
are often told through them: bleak, intangible numbers that hide the harsh – and sometimes mundane – reality of life as a refugee. Of more than 65 million people globally that have been displaced from their homes, 21 million are refugees. These people – from the camps of Dadaab in Kenya, to the urban dwellings of Amman, Jordan – have individual stories and goals. But all strive for safety, for food and shelter, and for opportunities for their children. These are the numbers beyond the headlines; those that shape refugees’ experience as they try to forge a new life. These are the numbers that shape a human story, 21 million times over.
Illustration: Sean Loose
01. 2,750 MILES
Safety can be very far away. In 2015, hundreds of thousands of people from the Middle East and Africa fled their homelands for Europe, travelling on average 2,750 miles each from their country of origin. On foot, by leaky boat on the perilous Mediterranean, and via shifting border crossings, migrants who applied for asylum in Europe that year travelled a collective 2 billion miles, calculated one news organisation – or 80,000 times around the planet.
03. 4 YEARS
02. A TOY, A PHOTO, A MOBILE PHONE
Journalists and aid agencies have tried to document refugees’ most precious items, gathered in the frantic rush of departure. Alongside a toothbrush and vital medicines, many refugees treasure objects that remind them of home – a piece of jewellery gifted by a family member, a photo of loved ones, the key to a house they hope to see again or a child’s favourite toy. Among the more prosaic items, a mobile phone – and its charger – is perhaps the most essential.
04. 3 TO 4 YEARS
By the end of 2015, the average refugee had spent some four years in exile, according to World Bank estimates. In protracted crises – such as that in Afghanistan – the average length of displacement can be as much as 20 years. Still, four years is not a good sign: it is a reflection of decline in global security and an influx of new refugees. The sheer number of people displaced from Syria since 2011 has shrunk recent statistics.
Time passes slowly as a child; indeed, three years can be a lifetime to the youngest refugees. And yet three or four years is the typical amount of time refugee children spend out of school. According to data from the UN’s refugee and education agencies, displaced children are five times more likely to be out of school than the global average. The gap widens still further as they age: just 1 per cent of refugees attend university, compared to 34 per cent of their global peers.
05. $1 TO $3.33 A DAY
06. TWO DECADES
Finding a job is an arduous task, and working legally can be harder still. Strict employment laws leave many refugees to eke out a living in the grey economy – and everyone must work. A refugee child in Lebanon can earn a typical daily wage of $1-$3 peeling garlic in restaurants or doing agricultural work. Nonprofit The Freedom Fund found close to half of all Syrian refugee children are the joint or sole family breadwinners in Jordan.
For the refugees who can’t go back, the road to settlement is long. it takes up to 20 years for refugees to reach the same employment rate as natives in host European nations, according to the OECD. In the five years after arrival, only one in four refugees has a job, the agency found. And those jobs are rarely the best match for their skills: almost 60 per cent of tertiary-educated refugees in Europe are overqualified for the jobs they occupy.
‘Sometimes a photograph can change someone’s life’ War doesn’t end with peace treaties. In cities and towns across the globe, citizens bear the long-term cost of conflict. Photographer Giles Duley, author of the project ‘Legacy of War’, aims to bear witness to their plight through his work – and to encourage change Writer: Joanne Bladd
Right: Kholoud, pictured with her husband, was shot and paralysed by a sniper
Photography: Giles Duley
H E O N LY T H I N G I ’ V E E V E R
le a r ne d ab out wa r is t hat everybody pays a price for it. At school, we learn the history of conflict – the dates of wars, the number of casualties – but never of the long-term consequences. Yet war affects the people caught up in it for the rest of their lives, and beyond. The impact can ring across generations. I became a photographer by accident. At 18, I was involved in a car crash and had to give up sport, which at that point was my life. During this time my godfather died, leaving me his camera and a book by the war photographer Don McCullin. And as I lay in hospital, I looked through this book – at stark, black-and-white photographs of the Vietnam war, of famine in Bangladesh, the war in Biafra – and I was so moved that I decided this was what I wanted to do with my life. I taught myself photography lying in a hospital bed. By the time I was in my mid-twenties I was a rock photographer, travelling the world to capture bands and take fashion photography. I made a lot of money and I had great success, but as the years went on, I was incredibly unhappy and increasingly cynical about celebrity culture. The turning point came in 2002 when – in the middle of a photoshoot – I threw my camera down on to a hotel bed, and it bounced out the window and smashed. It was, I thought, the end of my career. But eventually I began to think about how I could use my photography to help people, to advocate for them and tell their stories – a sort of activism with imagery. It made sense to me, and that’s really where my second life as a documentary photographer began. I first had the idea for ‘Legacy of War’ in 2011. At the time I was mainly working with NGOs and charities – the Italian NGO Emergency, Médecins Sans Frontières and several others – to help tell their stories and those of the people they work with. I’m not a war photographer: if anything, I’m an anti-war photographer, and my interest has always been in what happens to countries when wars end. My plan was to document the toll of war on civilians and the longer-term legacy – whether it’s displacement, or psychological and physical injuries – and perhaps, eventually, to help change the way we speak about conflict. Because if there's one thing my work has taught me, it’s that no matter where people are
"THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHS ARE NEVER TAKEN, THEY’RE GIVEN" – Cambodia, Rwanda, Northern Ireland, Syria – the stories of those affected by war are the same. The themes are universal. Afghanistan was to be the first part of the project. I was embedded with an American unit in Kandahar as I’d decided to do a story on the impact of war on soldiers. I felt it was important to record all sides of the conflict, and show how sometimes those fighting in a war can also become victims. Then one morning, while out on patrol, I stepped on a landmine.
The first few moments were bewilderment. I remember the blast; flying in the air and then thinking I was going to die quite quickly. My legs were blown clean off – I could see bits of them in the tree above me - and my left hand was shredded. I had one focus, and that was to stay alive for another minute, and then for another five minutes, and another. I was still conscious when they wheeled me into surgery. I had 37 operations that first year. Four months later, I sat up in bed unaided. After a year, I began learning to walk again. I never questioned that I would get my life back: it’s all I kept saying and I was only annoyed that it took so long. Eighteen months later, I was back in Afghanistan and taking photos. Is it hard? Yes. I am in physical pain every day, and it is exhausting. I don’t have the mobility I had: I can’t run and I can’t kneel. But it was very important to me to realise I could still achieve work of the
Left: Duley describes himself as an 'anti-war photographer'
same level. I would only do it if I felt I still had something to offer. In 2015, I was approached by UNHCR to document the refugee crisis. They gave me probably the greatest brief ever given to a photographer, which was “follow your heart”. I spent the next seven months crisscrossing Europe and the Middle East, from the beaches in Lesbos, to Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, where the real crisis was taking place, finding stories and people to focus on. When you have millions of people displaced by conflict, those statistics can become overwhelming. But each family has a different story, and within that will be something people can relate to. As a photographer, I’m very interested in intimacies – a father brushing his daughter’s hair, or a mother cooking for her children. It’s little moments like that which are universal and sometimes, when the focus is on the horror of war, it distances us from that. My work is all about reminding us of the similarities. That it doesn’t matter whether you live in a refugee camp, or a penthouse, your intimate moments with those you love are identical. Many of the families I’ve met have gone on to become pa r t of my life. Shamah was a Syrian lady in her 90s, with a tattooed face, who was living in dire conditions in Jordan. When I turned up in her camp, she shook her finger at me, as if to say: “We don’t want a photographer here.’ And I couldn’t argue with that. So I spent the next few days meeting people, talking to the families, and eventually I asked the community to help me set up my white sheet, which I carry with me to use as a backdrop. I turned away to fiddle with my cameras, and when I turned back, Shamah was standing there in front of the sheet. She was the first portrait. The best photographs are never taken, they’re given. Months later, I sold that photograph as a print, and the money raised was sent to Shamah to buy a hearing aid she needed. So in the end it did bring her some help. Khouloud I met in 2014. She, her husband and their four children were living in a makeshift, windowless tent in Lebanon’s Beqaa valley. Khouloud had been paralysed from the neck down by a sniper’s bullet, and her husband was her full-time carer: she couldn’t leave the bed. When I returned in 2016, I remember
After fleeing the war in Syria, Shamah lived with her family in a makeshift refugee camp in Jordan
showing her a photo I’d taken during my previous visit; of her husband Jamal sitting at the end of the bed, holding her hand – a photograph of love. But two years later, here they were in exactly the same position, and I remember bursting into tears and telling them I’d failed them because they'd trusted me with their story and still nothing had changed. But this is the power of a story. That photograph was shared by an American charity called Random Acts, and they began crowdfunding money, using my
photographs, and within the space of about two weeks we raised $250,000. Earlier this year, we were able to use some of the money to move Kholoud into a new home in Lebanon, which has been adapted for her wheelchair. She ha s a g a rden now, a nd to se e her and her husband ’s face and the children running around, it makes it all worthwhile. That’s the power of a story and I’m privileged that I get to tell them. Sometimes a photograph can change somebody’s life. —
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Denying refugees the right to work helps no one. If the goal is to restore the life of the displaced to as close to normality as possible, then autonomy should be high on the agenda, write Alexander Betts and Paul Collier
In search of dignity
N PRINCIPLE, WHEN REFUGEES FLEE
a crisis they receive initial emergency assistance and are then offered a pathway towards reintegration into normal life. In practice, however, this rarely takes place; a response designed just for the emergency phase all too often endures. Indefinite dependency on aid has gradually become the default long-term response to refugees. The imagined needs of refugees have almost universally been reduced to two basics â€“ food and shelter â€“ and it has become assumed that the most viable way to provide such rights is through camps. Once past the emergency phase of a refugee crisis, aid-based solutions can be counter productive
It was not meant to be this way. The refugee regime was originally intended to promote access to autonomy; almost half of the Refugee Convention focuses on socio-economic rights such as the right to work and freedom of movement. But these rights are simply not implemented, at least not since the global shift towards encampment from the 1980s. With the option to abrogate long-term responsibility to the international humanitarian system, host states have invariably restricted refugeesâ€™ participation in labour markets.
The denial of the right to work has had catastrophic consequences for many refugees, leading to a long-term erosion of skills, talents, and aspirations, and often exacerbating a sense of alienation and hopelessness. It has also left refugees less well-placed to contribute to their host states or to eventually rebuild their own societies when they go home. If our duty is to restore the life of the displaced to as close to normality as possible, restoring autonomy should be high on the agenda. This is especially so given many refugees stay in this limbo
for years and decades. One of the most important components of autonomy is the right to earn a living. Being able to participate in labour markets can enable refugees to regain a sense of dignity, enhance their quality of life, and improve their skills. As with all of us, among refugees’ highest priority is the ability to work to support themselves, their families, and their communities. However, not only is the right to work almost universally restricted for refugees by host governments, but the existing refugee protection system also lacks the necessary expertise to change the status quo. Because the refugee system has become a humanitarian system, it lacks expertise in development or the tools to guide market-based solutions t h a t c a n p rom o t e a u t onomy. T he general assumption has been that the primary duty is aid delivery rather than the restoration of independence and capacity. Yet there is nothing antithetical about someone being both a refugee and also a person capable of enjoying socio-economic autonomy. We need a paradigm shift in how we think about refugees’ needs. And it starts with recognising that refugees have skills, talents, and aspirations. They are not just passive objects of our pity, but actors constrained by cruel circumstance. They do not have to be an inevitable burden, but instead can help themselves and their communities – if we let them. Imagine if, instead of the humanitarian silo, we could conceive of a n approach that cou ld suppor t refugees’ autonomy and dignity while simultaneously empowering them to contribute to host communities and the eventual reconstruction of their country of origin. Central to this vision is the idea that refugees do not have to be understood just as a humanitarian issue; they can also be seen as a development issue. Humanitarianism may be appropriate in the emergency phase but beyond that it is counter-productive. The humanitarian toolbox offers food, clothing, and shelter; it focuses exclusively on refugees and their vulnerabilities. The development toolbox offers employment, enter pr ise , e duc at ion , he a lt hc a re , infrastructure, and governance; it focuses on both refugees and host communities, and it builds upon the capacities of both rather than just addressing vulnerabilities.
“We need a paradigm shift in how we think about refugees’ needs. And it starts with recognising that refugees have skills, talents and aspirations” A s so on a s we re c og n i se t hat t he assumption that refugees will go home quickly is a fiction, then it becomes imperative to embrace a developmentbased approach as early in a refugee crisis as possible. If refugee camps are becoming like cities, then we need an approach that can treat them as such. For the period that refugees are in limbo, we should be creating an enabling environment that nurtures rather than debilitates people’s ability to contribute in exile and when they ultimately go home. This should involve all of the things that allow people to thrive and contribute rather than merely survive: education, the right to work, electricity, connectivity, transportation, access to capital. Ideally refugees should be allowed to fully participate in the socio-economic life of the host state. But even when full participation is politically blocked, we should at least be able to reimagine geographical spaces that can empower people, and allow them to become selfreliant pending a longer-term solution. To ach ieve t h is v ision , host communities must share in the benefits. Just as we recognise that there are pressures for more sustainable refugee policies in the North, so too this applies in host counties in the South. Host governments are under pressure from their own citizens to ensure refugees do not become a source of competition for scarce resources. Service provision that supports refugees’ access to health and education should also benefit surrounding host communities. Jobs and markets that are created to help refugees must also benefit host country nationals. Additional funds should come from the international community in order specifically to support refugee-hosting
areas, enabling them to perceive refugees as a potentia l boon rather tha n a n inevitable burden. Put simply, policies are needed that move host community/refugee relations from a zero sum relationship to a positive sum relationship. —
ABOUT THE WRITERS
This is an edited extract from Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System, by Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, published by Allen Lane. Alexander (top) is the Leopold W. Muller Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs at the University of Oxford, where he is also director of the Refugee Studies Centre. Paul is the Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government.
Migration saves lives. And not in the way you might expect. This year, global remittances from migrant workers are expected to exceed $450bn – small, individual transfers that collectively reach around the world to help feed children, pay rent, and to lift entire communities out of poverty, one family at a time. Remittances generate three times more money every year than the global aid budget, and eclipse foreign direct investment into almost every low and middle-income state. The sums – which are typically as small as $200 or $300 – can represent 85 per cent of a migrant worker’s income. And the cumulative impact is huge. Between 2015 and 2030, migrants will send an estimated $6.5 trillion home. Though often seen as an economic drain, migrants are a force for good. Through their work – often in dirty, difficult or dangerous jobs, with poor pay to match – they offer a lifeline to the developing world. If the global goal is to end poverty, migration will play a crucial role in its success.
Barry Lewis / Getty Images
HORIZONS Canadian businessman Jim Estill put up $1.5m to bankroll an Ontario townâ€™s resettlement of 58 Syrian refugee families. Now, he hopes to galvanise others around the world to do the same and help those in need Writer: Joanne Bladd
A ONE-HOUR MEETING WAS ALL IT
took for Jim Estill to get a plan to bring 50 Syrian refugee families to Canada off the ground, and into play. The CEO of multimillion-dollar home appliance firm Danby, he rounded up aid and religious organisations in his home city of Guelph, zipped through a brief PowerPoint presentation, and asked them to join the cause. “And they said they would,” he says easily, “so that was that.” Estill is a doer. A serial entrepreneur, he has built companies and a career on the maxim that even indecision is a decision and that – when in doubt – do the right thing. In the summer of 2015, as the count of Syrians fleeing their country reached 4 million and the toll of those dying at Europe’s shores rose, Estill felt the need to act. Over the next few days he appraised local rents, calculated a food budget, and checked his sums against the government’s welfare rates. Based on his estimates, he worked out that it would cost him C$30,000 a year to fund a family of five in Guelph, a small city about 93km outside Toronto. By putting up a budget of $1.5m, he could afford to support about 50 Syrian families for a year under Canada’s private sponsorship programme. That was the plan he pitched to the Muslim Society of Guelph, the Salvation Army, and a clutch of local churches and synagogues, to ask for their help in fostering a citywide volunteer network to help settle the families into their new lives. “I didn’t think it was a big deal,” Estill says today. “As an entrepreneur, I always say ‘I do something’ – it’s not in my DNA to look the other way. Bringing in 250 people – it seemed proportional in a city of 130,000, and I thought that if every Canadian citizen did their part, we’d be able to empty the lake with a bunch of thimbles.” Much of the world has reacted to the global refugee crisis with a mix of hesitancy and hostility. In Canada, citizens have rallied to welcome them. Private sponsorship began in the country in 1978, in the aftermath of the Vietnam war, and allows private citizens to bring in and settle refugees as long as they commit to shouldering their expenses for the first year. More than 250,000 refugees have come to Canada so far under the scheme, including thousands of Syrians since the outbreak of war in 2011. As a child, Estill’s own family billeted two young men who had fled Uganda, though he mainly recalls annoyance at being moved out of his bedroom to accommodate them. “I was eight,” he laughs. “But they became fast friends.” Estill’s scheme was ambitious. Though staffed by volunteers – and buoyed by donations - it would run like a business: a full-scale operation offering refugees everything from English-language classes, to furniture, housing, and job training. Each
Photography: Dave Gillespie
family would be matched with Arabic and Englishspeaking mentors, to aid in tasks ranging from finding a doctor, to setting up a bank account and grocery shopping. For the first month to six weeks, newcomers would be billeted with a host family. The scheme’s success would hinge on a clear definition, Estill decided: 50 families who work, pay taxes, buy groceries, speak English and have a degree of integration. “The aim has to be independence,” he says. “Success is not 50 families on welfare. It’s not people who are ghettoised. You don’t help anyone by just writing cheques.” G et ting the city on boa rd proved easy. Within weeks “we had people coming out of the woodwork,” says Estill, as more than 800 volunteers scrambled to join the cause. They were spun off into teams – healthcare, finance, education, jobs, transportation, mentorship – each led by a director, and charged with helping newcomers navigate one aspect of their new lives. In town, a large, rented warehouse strained at
“I thought that if every Canadian citizen did their part, we’d be able to empty the lake with a bunch of thimbles”
Left: Jim Estill oversees an 800-strong volunteer effort to resettle the families in Guelph
the seams with donations of furniture, kitchen appliances, bedding, dishes and clothes. “I tell my friends, if you can run a business with 800 employees, you can run an organisation with 800 volunteers,” Estill says briskly. “This was no different. It’s just organising and executing on a bigger scale.” Harder was choosing who would come. In November 2015, a story about Estill’s plan appeared in a local Guelph paper. Within days, it had been translated into Arabic and shared across the Middle East, lighting up news feeds from Beirut to Cairo. At first, Estill received just a trickle of messages from refugees pleading for his help. But as the weeks passed, the emails stretched into the thousands, as families in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and even Syria begged to come to Canada. Estill read them all. “It’s terrible, because you are playing with their lives,” he says quietly. “How do you choose who to help, when you can’t help them all?”
Estill favoured those he thought were most likely to integrate in Canada: families with someone able earn a living, and those with relatives already in the area. Gradually, painstakingly, 58 families were selected, or about 220 people. The first reached Canada in January 2016, after a series of bureaucratic bottlenecks delayed their arrival and left pre-rented housing standing empty. The final families arrived in April of this year. “It’s been incredible, how people have given their time, their money, their skills to help them settle in,” says Sara Sayyed who, along with her husband, Muhammed, of the Muslim Society of Guelph, helps oversee the volunteer network and the families’ resettlement. The challenges, when they came, were not of the large-scale variety Sara had braced for. Instead,
it was smaller tensions over the presence of pets in billet houses – something at odds with Syrian culture – or patting down a host family, ruffled by their guests’ failure to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. “We had to explain they had almost no English, and were struggling to communicate at all, so it wasn't a matter of being impolite,” Sara says. “I’d expected big, logistical problems – but it was the little cultural nuances.” Estill encouraged refugees with little English to watch television and gain exposure to the language. During a home visit, he was surprised to find one family closely following a Frenchlanguage show. “They just assumed,” he grins, “that if it was on TV it had to be English. I suppose it would be like asking me to distinguish between Chinese and Korean.”
As the families settled in, Estill found many struggled to break into the job market because they lacked the necessary experience and English skills. Some were almost illiterate in Arabic, which made learning a new language a titanic task. His response was to establish the ‘Ease into Canada’ programme at Danby, which offers the refugees three months of work experience to help them find their feet, along with interview coaching, résumé writing, and daily in-house English classes. “We do 40 minutes a day of English, we have a lunch buddy scheme, we have an English word of the day – we introduce it in Arabic, then English – and we do our best to help them get used to the Canadian way of doing things,” says Estill. His employees have risen to the challenge. “If you want to inspire your company, do a project like
this,” he confides. “People are inspired by purpose. I’d love to say selling another 1,000 bar fridges is purpose enough, but it seems this has the edge.” The scheme is open to all Syrians – not just those who are supported by Estill – and some have relocated across Canada to enroll in it. When the 90 days are up, Estill reaches into his rolodex and does his best to land them all jobs. “If we have work, we’ll keep them on. If not, I’ll try and transition them to my friends,” Estill explains. “I call around local employers and say, ‘give the guy a chance. He’s hardworking: you’ll be thrilled with him.’” He has placed around 100 refugees in jobs so far, helped by his business network and Guelph’s largely blue-collar economy, where factory work is plentiful. It isn’t glamorous – and it can come as a shock to some highly educated Syrians, used to
a professional role – but the goal is employment, however it comes. “It’s a way to support your family while you train to do something else,” Estill drills them. It’s also been a way to head off any slowburning tensions with local residents. “The community isn’t looking at these people and saying, ‘they’re living off my tax dollars,’” explains Estill. “They have jobs and are paying tax. I think of it in terms of helping people get on their feet – you want to teach people to fish.” Firas, 39, arrived in Guelph in December with his wife and six-year-old daughter. A qualified geologist, he’d lived in Damascus until war broke out in 2011 before leaving to take up a role with an oil company in Iraq. His parents later fled to Saudi Arabia to live with two of his brothers, leaving
“I don’t know what would have happened to us without this opportunity. We had no hope and no future” - Firas
Left: Canada's private sponsorship scheme allows private citizens to bring in and settle refugees
him with no family in Syria. Firas, his wife and daughter stayed in Iraq until 2015, when rising unrest and falling oil prices saw his employer shutter its operations. The family took a bus across the border to Turkey where, after seven months of searching, Firas found temporary work as a translator. He eventually secured a job with a global NGO, acting as an interpreter for fellow Syrian refugees, but – following Turkey’s attempted military coup and a spate of terror attacks – says the family “never felt safe” in the country. In early 2016, Firas heard about Estill through a friend, who had already been accepted into the programme. He filled out the applications, and then endured almost a year’s wait to hear that his family had been successful. “I was shocked, but so happy,” he says. “I don’t know what would have happened to us without this opportunity. We had no hope and no future.” Today Firas works as a supervisor in Danby. He is studying, rents a home with his wife and no longer needs the $1,900 monthly allowance given through the sponsorship programme. Enrolling his daughter in kindergarten was “the greatest pleasure I’ve had in Canada,” he says. Firas’ deep gratitude to the people who have helped settle his family into their new life is clear. “I once asked a volunteer if he was paid for helping me,” he remembers. “He said no: that he wasn’t able to stop the war in my country, but he was happy to do his bit and help a refugee from Syria.” Estill is looking to the future. He hopes to bring at least another 50 families to Canada, and is lobbying to lift government caps on immigration. He also wants to motivate other wealthy businesspeople to put their money in motion, and find homes and jobs for refugees. The refugee response needs this new blood, he says. “Entrepreneurs know how to scale, and they’re connected. We need good people to stand up.” He remains baffled by the attention he’s received for his efforts. At best, his many previous gifts to charity earned him a plaque on a wall, but never global headlines. “I’m blown away by this,” he admits. “I really don’t see what the big deal is. It’s just – you know: do the right thing. I didn’t want to look back and know I stood by and did nothing.” The payback he receives is from the families, becoming enmeshed in Canadian life. Of those who have lived in Guelph for more than four months, 80 per cent are now working and paying their way. For Estill and his wife, weekends and evenings now consist of visiting the homes of newcomers and seeing their progress. “I drink more tea than I’ve ever drunk in my life,” he laughs, “but these families are friends. I see their children doing well; it’s extremely heartwarming.” —
I N V I S I B L E
P E O P L E
Left and above: Displacement in subSaharan Africa and in the Middle East and North Africa has risen steadily since 2003, generating an average of 5.3 million new displacements a year. Today, IDPs outnumber refugees by roughly two to one â€“ and the gap is still growing
E V E R Y S E C O ND O F E V E R Y D AY, S O M E O NE IN T HE W O R L D I S F O R C E D T O F L E E T HE IR H O M E . D I S P L A C E M E N T I S T HE W O R L D ' S G R E AT E S T U N S E E N C R I S I S : I T ' S T IM E T O IN V E S T IN S O LV IN G I T
REFUGEES MAKE HEADLINES. INTERNALLY
displaced people do not. IDPs – those who are uprooted from their homes by conflict, violence or disaster, but remain trapped within their country – have, since 1990, outnumbered refugees by two to one. Yet this 40.3 million-strong wave of people is typically overlooked by the global community until it spills across borders, or seas. In 2016, 31.1 million people left their home to settle elsewhere within their country, abandoning family, friends, livelihoods and communities. Conflict displaced nearly 7 million people, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo the worst affected. Some 933,000 people were displaced, a 50 per cent leap on the previous year. A further 24 million were exiled by natural disasters, such as storms, floods and wildfires,
with this trend at its most acute in east Asia and the Pacific, according to data by the monitoring centre IDMC, which is part of aid agency the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). In China, more than 7 million people were forced out of their homes following disasters, followed by nearly 6 million in the Philippines, and 2.4 million in India. Many refugees don’t cross a border at the first sign of war. Instead, they scatter within their own country, fleeing further afield as their situation worsens. Yet IDPs have no claim to international protection and exist, unseen, off the global grid, often deprived of essential aid and support. Last year, more funding was spent on refugee resettlement within donor nations than in the countries where displacement crises erupted, an approach that does nothing to slow the flow
of people on the move. There remains no single agency mandated to protect those uprooted within countries. “Humanity has no borders, and no group should be neglected,” says NRC secretary general Jan Egeland. “We need the full picture of global displacement to be acknowledged. To limit access to assistance and protection according to lines on a map would be a failure of humanity.” Refugees are the visible tip of the displacement iceberg. They are also a symptom of a global failure to acknowledge, aid and protect people in their own communities. Only by investing in tackling the agents of displacement – climate change, prolonged wars, economic collapse and disaster risk – will we stem the root causes of the refugee crisis and thin the ranks of those fleeing their homes. —
Left: Three times more people were uprooted by disasters than by conflict in 2016, with low-income countries most vulnerable to displacement risk Right: Of the total number of displaced people worldwide, over three-quarters live in just 10 countries; among them Sudan, South Sudan and Colombia. Once on the move, IDPs face "all but insurmountable obstacles" in returning to normal lives, said IDMC
Photography: Fredrik Lerneryd/NRC
LOST AT SEA The Mediterranean is the worldâ€™s most lethal border crossing. This year alone, more than 2,500 migrants are dead or missing after attempting the journey. As the fight to secure safe, legal routes continues, meet the NGOs battling to save those at sea Writer: Joanne Bladd Photography: Jerome Sessini
N JUNE 2013, REGINA CATRAMBONE WAS
onboard a chartered yacht with her husband Christopher and daughter Maria Luisa for a sailing trip to the coast of Tunisia. As the yacht motored out from the harbour in Lampedusa, a tiny, picturesque island off the Sicilian coast, the Italian entrepreneur spotted an object bobbing gently on the water. It was a winter jacket, a peculiar sight in the warm summer sun, and she asked their captain about it. He told her it had likely come from one of the thousands of migrants who’d attempted to cross to Italy from Libya, crammed into flimsy inflatable dinghies or decrepit fishing boats – one who had drowned in the process. “Seeing that jacket was for us a tangible sign of how people were dying at Europe’s doorstep, in the same waters we were sailing in,” says Regina, who runs the multinational Tangiers Group with her husband, providing insurance and other services in conflict zones. “We realised that we were sailing over a grave.” When Pope Francis weeks later inveighed against the “globalisation of indifference”, in his first visit outside the Vatican, the Catrambones took note. And by October, when more than 300 refugees – many from Somalia and Eritrea – drowned within sight of Lampedusa when their boat caught fire and sank, they’d taken action. The Migrant Offshore Aid Station, or MOAS, completed its first mission in late August 2014: a 90-day stint, funded by the Catrambones, in which it helped to rescue 3,104 migrants. Its boat, the Phoenix, is a 130ft ex-fishing trawler kitted out with drones, a helipad, a medical clinic, speedboats and inflatables to prop up listing vessels. Now marking its third birthday, MOAS has come to the aid of more than 40,000 women, children and men, ranging in age from two days, to 92 years. The motto behind the Mediterranean’s first search-and-rescue NGO is simple: nobody deserves to die at sea. “You will never stop migration; no one can. People will always be willing to make the crossing,” says Regina. “But what we can do is try to help them. We have a responsibility to do that.” In the three years since the start of the migrant crisis, the Mediterranean has become its most fraught humanitarian zone. In 2015, more than 1 million migrants tried to reach Europe by sea, with 3,771 dead or missing on the crossing. They come from failed and fragile states – Eritrea, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria, Afghanistan – fleeing famine, civil war, poverty and lawlessness. Some simply go in search of a better life. Italy is the busiest gateway, a result in part of a deal between the EU and Turkey struck in 2016 to stem the flow of migrants to Greece. Of the 125,860 people that reached Europe by sea in the first nine
months of this year, 79 per cent arrived in Italy. Most launched from Libya, where anarchy and the absence of a central government has lit a thriving, criminal trade in people smuggling, one which helped earn traffickers as much as $6bn in 2015. Europe has struggled to shape effective answers to the crisis. Tightened borders and policies have seen arrival numbers dip, but – in a parrying dance between EU states and traffickers – as one sea crossing closes, new routes crop up. In August, a video captured sunbathers on a Spanish beach watching in bemusement as a rubber dingy of migrants fetched up on the shore. Spain has seen a spike in arrivals this year after a clampdown on the central Mediterranean route from Libya. In a macabre popularity contest, it is gaining on Greece as a destination for migrants. In the aftermath of the Lampedusa drownings in 2013, Italy unveiled a major search and rescue patrol, Mare Nostrum – or ‘our sea’ – at a cost of $12m a month. A year later, responsibility passed to the surveillance and rescue mission Operation Triton, run by Europe’s border control agency Frontex. Over the next 12 months, as the death toll climbed, NGOs joined MOAS in running rescue missions along the world’s most lethal border crossing, scooping up a quarter of all those saved in 2016. “If people are dying, irrespective of whether the humanitarian arena is in sub-Saharan Africa or the sea, we are obliged to help,” says Rob MacGillivray, director of Save the Children’s search-and-rescue operations. “The imperative is exactly the same.” Save the Children has rescued more than 4,200 people since launching its patrol a year ago, including 550 children – many of which were travelling alone. Its ship, the Vos Hestia, is a 200ft anchor-handler usually based in Sicily. It has capacity for about 350 people, though previous rescues have seen it take more than 600. Along with high-speed dinghies, a medical clinic and a 22ft container used as shelter for unaccompanied minors, the ship also holds a mortuary for the times its crew must pull bodies from the sea. “These are people who often don’t know how to swim, who may have never seen the sea before. Yet they still take the risk,” says MacGillivray. “That they’ll get on a boat with their family – that they put their children on these boats – tells you how desperate they are.”
OR MANY, THE MEDITERRANEAN IS THE
last leg in a journey of horror. Ninety per cent of migrants reaching the EU have passed through smuggling gangs, paying anywhere between $3,200 to $6,500 for passage. In West Africa, they are trafficked through smuggling hubs such as the city of Agadez, in
Niger. From there, they are ferried in denselypacked pickup trucks across the Sahara desert, unwittingly shadowing the ancient caravan routes of the trans-Saharan slave trade, before crossing into Libya. The Horn of Africa trail is fuelled by Eritrea, among the world ’s fastest-emptying states, where traffickers deal in citizens fleeing poverty, persecution and military conscription. Migrants are shuttled through outposts in Sudan and across the border to Libya, where they are held in camps on the coast. Syrians, meanwhile, may find themselves exported south through Jordan and Egypt, before either crossing the border directly, or threading upwards through Sudan to Libya. For those with money, the journey can take days. Those without must move in stages, at risk of abduction, extortion, forced labour, or prostitution. Migrants routinely tell of beatings, abuse, and rape, or of being held for months by armed gangs until their families raised enough money to secure their release. What links their stories is where they end: held captive in Libya, waiting for a seat in a boat. Migrants tell of being forced – sometimes at gunpoint – to board dangerously overfilled
“TO ENDURE SO MUCH TO GET THERE, AND THEN TO DIE IN THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES – IT’S JUST TRAGIC” 2,537
The number of migrants lost or missing at sea in the first nine months of 2017
Of the 131,703 migrants who tried to reach Europe in the first nine months of this year, almost all came by sea
NGOs conduct close to half of all rescues in the Mediterranean
boats, with little food or water and too few lifejackets to go around. Stacked to capacity, these battered dinghies and exposed wooden ships are then pushed out into the waves, often with barely enough fuel to reach international waters. “Someone is given the task of steering and the smugglers will say ‘just head for that light out there, that’s Italy,’ and off they go,” says MacGillivray. “Then they find the light out there is actually an oil platform just inside Libyan waters. And it’s at that point that the fuel runs out and the boat starts taking on water.”
HE FIRST MINUTES OF A RESCUE ARE
tense. NGO vessels approach cautiously, using loudspeakers to relay instructions in multiple languages to those packed into the boats: “We are here to help you. Stay where you are; sit still. You are safe. We are going to take you to Italy.” High-speed dinghies or speedboats rush lifejackets out to the boat, before people are gradually transferred to the ship and given food, water, blankets and clothing, and medical aid. Pregnant women, children and the sick are ferried across first, with rescues sometimes taking hours to complete. “ Those fi rst few m i nutes a re t he most worrying,” says Dr Javid Abdelmoneim, president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) UK and Ireland. MSF works onboard the Aquarius, a 500-capacity ship chartered by the GermanFrench charity SOS Mediteranée, offering medical aid to those rescued. “There can be three, four, five dinghies in the immediate waters, and depending on the weather, and the condition of the boats, it can be very tricky,” he explains. Rescues operate on a knife-edge. A wave, or a rush to the side of the boat can be enough to capsize an overloaded, waterlogged vessel, tipping people into the sea. In the blur of chaos, and flailing desperation of those in the water, deaths are almost inevitable. “You can’t save everyone in that type of situation,” says Abdelmoneim. Last August, he joined the Aquarius for a three-week rotation off the coast of Tripoli, supporting the ship’s medical team. The weekend before he boarded, the crew had responded to a dangerously overfilled dingy in distress in the central Mediterranean. Panic had erupted when the plywood strut lining the base of the dingy snapped, folding the sides of the boat inwards and onto the occupants. In the ensuing stampede, more than 20 people died, crushed or drowned in the melee. “My colleagues had to treat survivors with bite marks on their ankles and calves from those at the bottom of the boat trying to save themselves,” he says. “To endure so much to get there, and then to die in such horrific circumstances – it’s just tragic.”
Centre: Regina Catrambone, cofounder of MOAS, distributes food following a rescue. NGOs have been on the frontline of humanitarian efforts in the Mediterranean
THE ROUTES MIGRANT ARRIVALS AND DEATHS, 2015-2017
271 ATHENS ALGIERS
In 2015, almost half of migrants reaching Europe by sea came from Syria
In the year to July, Africa was the source of more than 60 per cent of sea arrivals to Europe
9,832 *SOURCE: IOM ESTIMATES
Boarding the larger smuggler boats “is like entering hell,” says Regina. Migrants throng the upper and lower decks, huddling in the hull in waist-deep water that is laced with fuel, vomit and urine. “The smell is unimaginable, and the fumes are intoxicating,” she says. Mixed with saltwater, the fuel causes chemical burns, peeling away the skin. “We regularly see third, fourth-degree burns. If they’ve been in the water long enough, their skin will fuse with their clothes.” The rescues have left their mark on her, Regina says. “When I see the women, a mother like me who arrives with her semi-dead child, I cannot understand the inhumanity of those who want to turn a blind eye.”
EARCH-AND-RESCUE NGOS OCCUPY
a difficult space. In recent months, Italy has made renewed efforts to stem seaborne migration, striking a deal to support the Libyan coastguard in its capacity to intercept and turn back migrant boats. In late July, Rome drew up a ‘code of conduct’ for search-andrescue NGOs at sea which, among other measures, called for NGOs to allow armed police onboard to monitor activities. This is despite aid agencies already operating under the oversight of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome. Libya has also asserted its right to operate well beyond its territorial limit of 12 nautical miles, leading to clashes with NGO vessels positioned on the edge of Libyan waters. In August, Save the Children, MSF and Germany’s Sea Eye suspended their rescue operations, citing increasing hostilities with the Libyan authorities. In September, MOAS announced that it would shift its rescue operations to South East Asia and the Rohingya migrant crisis, temporarily halting its work in the Mediterranean. Underpinning this backlash is the idea that NGOs act as a ‘pull factor’ for smugglers, who put migrants in ever-more fragile boats with the expectation of rescue. Abdelmoneim disputes this theory, countering that rescue patrols are not the cause of the situation but a response. The conditions in Libya are now so nightmarish, he says, that migrants feel it is a death sentence if they stay. “People have become a commodity in Libya now; it’s a trade,” he explains. “The [migrants] we see have stab wounds, broken limbs; they’ve been abused, beaten and subjected to detention. So if the choice is to stay, or push forward – no matter what the chances – they will cross anyway. They will find a way, because to stay is worse.” Bottling up migrants in Libya will also push smugglers to resurrect disused and more perilous routes to Europe, says MacGillivray, crossing from
Tunisia, Morocco or Egypt. The rate of death among migrants making the journey this year is already twice as high as it was in 2016, according to IOM data. “We are dealing with the largest unmarked grave in recent times, and I fear it will become larger if people are forced to take greater risks,” MacGillivray warns. NGOs agree that search-and-rescue patrols are not the answer to the Mediterranean’s migrant crisis, the brunt of which has been shouldered by Italy. What is needed to solve the problem, says Regina, are safe and legal humanitarian corridors, which would sever the need for smuggling operations. “We hope that eventually there won’t be a need for MOAS,” she says. “[But] while we discuss what to do to block the flows or avoid landings, there are those who continue to risk their life at sea.” For Abdelmoneim, it is simply a matter of people putting themselves in the place of a migrant family. “If there was no work, if you were living in mud, poverty and conflict, if your children were sick, or if your baby was dying from malnourishment – faced with those pressures, wouldn’t you leave?” he asks. “You would go in a heartbeat. And so would they. “These people have hopes and dreams, just as we do,” he adds. “So how can we deny them a future?” —
"THESE PEOPLE HAVE HOPES AND DREAMS, JUST AS WE DO. SO HOW CAN WE DENY THEM A FUTURE?"
Some see challenges in the global refugee crisis; economists see opportunity. Starbucks made headlines this year when it pledged to hire 10,000 refugees globally over the next five years. The sentiment might seem altruistic, but â€“ as data shows â€“ hiring refugees makes good business sense. Germany is home to the largest foreign-born population in Europe. In 2014, more than 1.3 million people relocated there, up from around 558,400 in 2006. In the same period, the unemployment rate fell from 10 per cent to 4.2 per cent. In 2016, Germany was the second-fastest growing G7 economy. In the US, a recent study found refugees pay more in taxes than they receive in social spending, once theyâ€™ve been resident for 20 years. They also work longer hours than their native-born counterparts. In Europe, economists predict refugees will not only provide a demographic shot in the arm to counter ebbing birth and workforce rates, but provide a much-needed engine of economic growth. So who is really saving who? Luke Sharrett / Getty Images
Writer: Andrew White Photography: John Marsland
By royal appointment
The UAE-based Big Heart Foundation disburses more than $4m each year to refugees in the Middle East and to children in Palestine. Director Mariam Al Hammadi describes how the foundation works to make every dollar count â€“ and how royal support can inspire donors to reach deeper into their pockets 46
ER HIGHNESS IS A ROLE MODEL
and her name brings great credibility to the work we do,” says Mariam Al Hammadi, director of the Big Heart Foundation (BHF). “More than that, she has a deep personal commitment to this work: when she goes into the field she doesn’t do it for show, she does it to learn. She helps us to better understand the needs of beneficiaries – and after all, that’s what really matters.” The BHF is the creation and passion of Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, the wife of Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, ruler of the UAE emirate of Sharjah. It disburses around AED10m ($2.7m) each year for the welfare of refugees in the Middle East, and a further AED5m in support of children in Palestine. It also funds programmes in Africa and South Asia, and conducts advocacy on behalf of refugees and underserved groups from Tanzania to Indonesia – causes adopted over the course of a busy decade during which Sheikha Jawaher has emerged as one of the region’s most actively engaged humanitarian leaders. The origins of the foundation date back to 2008, when Sheikha Jawaher launched Salam Ya Seghar (‘peace for the children’), a fundraising campaign to provide Palestinian children with healthcare, education, food security, water and sanitation and more. Her Highness’ endorsement of Salam Ya Seghar, Al Hammadi says, reassured donors and persuaded them to reach into their pockets: in its inaugural year the campaign raised more than AED80m; four years later it would raise a further AED40m. In 2013 Sheikha Jawaher was appointed as the first Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children by UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, and launched the Big Heart Campaign, which was based broadly on the Salam Ya Seghar model but which would direct funding towards those displaced by the conflict in Syria. Two years later, having provided lifesaving medical services to more than 365,000 Syrian refugees and given more than 400,000 others vital food and financial aid, Sheikha Jawaher consolidated all her humanitarian efforts under the banner of the BHF. Al Hammadi, who joined the royal office in 2012, was the first employee to be recorded with the foundation, which today retains nine full-time staff members. Salaries and administration costs, Al Hammadi explains, are drawn not from donations but from “other sources” within Sharjah. “Her Highness has always said that the donors are giving money to help the children, so we should not deduct anything from the money we receive in charity, to cover our own costs.” Of total annual donations to the BHF, around 60 per cent come from the private sector, with
private individuals and government entities accounting for the remainder. If the foundation does not spend its budget in a single year, then between 50 and 60 per cent of the balance is invested in sharia-compliant vehicles to raise further funds. “Whatever investments we enter into must be 100 per cent capital secure, so we’re sure that we won’t lose our money. We never take even a 1 per cent risk of losing anything, and that makes the donors comfortable with our approach – after all we are making their money go further,” says Al Hammadi. Such invention is crucial at a time of limited budgets and ever-expanding humanitarian crises. Al Hammadi notes that donations to the foundation earmarked for Palestine have dropped by around 70 per cent, as media attention has shifted towards refugees from Syria, Iraq and Yemen. “I don’t blame donors,” she says. “If, as
a donor, I have supported the Palestinians for one or two or 10 years, and then there is a new crisis, I might focus on the other group because I have already spent years helping the Palestinian community. So that money is still coming into the foundation, but donors are asking us to channel it in another direction.” Like ma ny of its peers, the foundation witnessed a downturn in funding in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008, and is now feeling the effects of donor fatigue – as well as the oil price slump that has slowed economies across the region. “I would expect that we [will see] a drop in donations,” she says. “[It is harder to raise money], especially now with the financial situation.” Al Hammadi hopes that the issuing of a royal decree in May this year will enable the foundation to expand its donor base and bring in additional income. “Now we will be able to welcome donations from people outside Sharjah
Below: BHF pairs with global and grassroots NGOs to deliver aid to communities in Palestine, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. Partner agencies must spend no more than 7 per cent of money on admin costs to meet BHF's funding requirements
and the UAE,” she says. “We will also be able to open an online page through which people can donate to us.” In the meantime, Al Hammadi and her team will endeavour to select partners that will enable what money it does spend, to go further. The foundation has strict criteria by which it selects its partners, and proposals for funding are analysed rigorously. Once a project is launched, partners can expect to find themselves the subject of intense scrutiny. “We tell our partners what we expect from them, and that’s quarterly reports with specific information including which performance objectives have been met in that quarter, and what objectives will be achieved in the next,” explains Al Hammadi. “We compare the quarterly reports against the proposals we received before launching the project, and then assess whether our targets are being
met or not,” she continues. “We also work with third parties who compile their own assessments, and we can then match those against the reports we receive from our partners, to make sure that everyone agrees on what targets are being met.” The foundation also engages directly with beneficiaries, either face-to-face or via video conferencing, to gather feedback and build a complete picture of a project’s effectiveness. Funding is released in stages and the payment of each tranche is dependent upon results. “If the project is succeeding then I’ll send you the next instalment. Otherwise you won’t get it,” says Al Hammadi. So far, she adds, the time the foundation spends assessing potential partners and projects, has proved time well spent. “There have been no disappointments because we try our best to select the right partner and we are very clear before we sign any agreement,” she says.
UNHCR is the foundation’s partner of choice for the majority of its work with Syrian and Iraqi refugees. “UNHCR has been in the field for decades and they know more about the situation than anybody,” says Al Hammadi. “It’s not right to launch or support projects just for the sake of being able to tell people that you have done it. You have to find the right project and implement it in the right way. Large organisations such as UNHCR have the knowledge and experience to guide in those decisions.” Between 2013 and 2016 BHF directed more t h a n A E D 70 m t h rou g h U N HC R towa rd s education, healthcare, sanitation, protection and emergency relief for refugees. More than 650,000 refugees have benefitted from BHF-funded programmes, which run from basic needs to cash assistance, psychosocial support and WASH programmes. A BHF-supported healthcare clinic at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan has so far treated more than 48,000 patients. “We built the clinic and we have covered the running costs for the past four years,” says Al Hammadi. “We’re willing to cover the costs for the next few years, too, because we know that the services are very important.” T h e f o u n d a t i o n ’s wo r k i n P a l e s t i n e , meanwhile, employs global bodies such as the World Food Programme, but also counts on the efforts of a wide number of other NGOs. Among its partners are Oxfam, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, MSF, and SOS Children’s Villages – the latter of which channelled $744,000 of BHF cash into the care, protection, and education of children in Gaza in the first six months of 2017. Over the period 2013 to 2016, BHF spent close to AED25m on programmes in Palestine, benefitting more than 184,000 people. All partners, large and small, are scrutinised on their operations as well as their impact. “We have been clear from the beginning that no more than 7 per cent of the money that we give can be spent on admin fees,” explains Al Hammadi. “When smaller organisations are unable to fulfil the criteria that we have, for example in terms of the reporting schedule, or admin costs, then larger organisations can help them out with training and implementation.” The wide scope of BHF operations – as well as the hands-on nature of Sheikha Jawaher’s leadership – demands dedication at all levels of the foundation. Long hours and working weekends are common and met without complaint. “Someone is always waiting for our support, and someone is always waiting for us to make a difference in his or her life,” says Al Hammadi. “ That thought pushes us to do more, to do everything we possibly can.” —
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Writer: Stuart Matthews Illustration: Nigel Buchanan
S THE EUROPEAN REFUGEE CRISIS REACHED
fever pitch in 2015, Shelley Taylor, founder and CEO of app developer Trellyz, had an idea. Why not use her team’s expertise to link refugees to shelter, sustenance and other critical services? The result was the Refugee Aid app – or RefAid for short. Created over the course of a weekend in early 2016, RefAid uses geolocation and real-time data to show migrants, refugees and aid workers up-to-date maps of the nearest service points, filtered by category. Some meet simple short-term needs – such as water or blankets – while others cater to the long-term demands of a life lived in limbo: legal aid, medical clinics and education. “It is meant to cover many years of the refugee life cycle,” explains Taylor, a Silicon Valley veteran. Two years on, RefAid is active in 14 countries, features more than 400 aid organisations and charities – ranging from the British Red Cross to Save the Children – and continues to attract up to 50 more a month. Nonprofits that sign up populate the app with data about their services, which is then promoted in two languages to refugees and migrants using the platform. Alongside helping users to find their footing, RefAid also acts as a single source for aid agencies to see which services exist, or are missing, in each location. “For the first time [agencies] have a way to see what else is going on near them, with the benefit that now they are no longer all doing the same thing in the same place,” says Taylor, who funded the project with a mix of her own money, company assets and donations. A decade ago, RefAid would have been an outlier. Now it is a sign of a wider trend that has seen technology firms begin to disrupt the traditional crisis response models of the aid sector. Beginning in 2015, the industry has seen an almost spontaneous response to the refugee crisis, with an army of techies rallying to find new and novel ways to help people in transit. What emerged, by way
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of a flurry of hackathons and other hub-powered events, were fledgling tools and models to help tend to the needs of those crossing borders. From groups like Techfugees, a social enterprise that aims to steer the global tech sector’s response to the crisis, to established digital players such as Trellyz. “It was a huge, welcome surprise when, at the height of the migrant crisis in Europe, the tech community really stepped up,” says Meghan Benton, a senior policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute. While the digital response hasn’t pushed aside traditional ways of delivering aid,
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it is helping to bring something new to the way over-stretched humanitarian agencies operate. “The real potential is in working more closely together and thinking about how tech can be more disruptive and solve problems at scale,” she adds. The recent migrant crisis has been unusual in more than just its size. For the first time, smartphones have become compasses: a way to find safe passage. Maps and GPS help find open border points, while apps translate foreign languages, wire money, or help to navigate government bureaucracies in a new country. Each WhatsApp message or Facebook login is a lifeline
to loved ones, one that comes without the burden of expensive call rates. For relief agencies, faced with a digital migration, mobile phone charging and wi-fi points have become as essential as aid packages for those they help. For tech giants, familiar with digital delivery on a vast scale, this is an opportunity to lend their clout to the crisis response. Homesharing site Airbnb earlier this year launched Open Homes, a platform that allows hosts to offer free temporary housing to displaced people. Relief agencies can use the site to search for accommodation on behalf of refugees or those made homeless by natural disasters or other emergencies. In June, there were 6,000 listings on the platform, and Airbnb aims to provide free, short-term housing to 100,000 over five years. Professiona l net work ing site Lin ked In first piloted its ‘Welcome Talent’ microsite in February 2016. Available in English and Arabic, it connected refugees in Sweden with 50 local companies offering internships and jobs. By October it was expanding to Canada, and by January, the US, where it partnered with aid agency the International Rescue Committee. In June, LinkedIn said the programme had helped nearly 4,000 refugees to date. Search giant Google has offered a hearts and minds approach. In May, it joined with the UN’s refugee agency to launch Searching for Syria, an immersive website that allows users to explore
some of the details behind the five most searched questions about Syria and the Syrian people. The site offers a haunting insight into the conflict and resulting diaspora, using videos, photography, satellite imagery and refugee stories to bring the crisis to life. The quest for tech solutions goes beyond helping those in transit, and into helping migrants forge a new life. Many – particularly refugees – have missing documentation; the result of fleeing without birth certificates, ID cards or degree certificates. Without papers to prove their identity, securing a bank account, home, or the right to work or study becomes a vast, administrative headache. BanQu is one app taking aim at this issue. A private blockchain platform, it allows people to record transactions, health and education records, and credit histories to build up a personal digital identity. It is the brainchild of Ashish Gadnis, a tech entrepreneur and former US Aid country CEO for the Democratic Republic of Congo. “We are able to connect displaced people to the basic things that are happening to them,” says Gadnis. “If they receive remittance money, aid or micro finance, BanQu allows the identity of the refugee to capture the transaction information.” Launched in late 2016, BanQu has some 5,000 identities registered and is growing steadily in locations such as East Africa and Jordan, where it has partnered with digital payments company Boloro to help refugees receive and spend funds
transferred from NGOs. While it is free for the poor, the displaced and refugees, the same platform turns a profit via its commercial arm, which in turn keeps its pro bono services in operation. Building trust has been an important part of gaining users so Gadnis and his team have worked closely with existing aid agencies. “Whether it’s a co-operative or an NGO, we enable the platform so they can now capture the data and users can then register with us through their trust network,” he says. From an employment perspective coding schools have produced impactful, if limited, outcomes, helping to propel refugees into lucrative work. For example ReBootKamp (RBK) was established in Amman, Jordan to train and deploy software engineers over an 18-week course. “It occurred to me to use code bootcamps to translate the vast amount of intellectual potential in the refugee environment, into intellectual capital,” explains Hugh Bosely, founder of RBK. After a year of partnership-building between Silicon Valley, the Jordanian government and NGOs, the first round of RBK kicked off in May 2016, aiming to produce eight engineers. It generated 17. Now into its third round, the programme received more than 2,000 applications for some 40 places. “It’s a drop in the bucket, but that said the technology is very scalable,” says Bosely, who is hunting for donors to help scale RBK into other parts of Jordan and e ve n t u a l l y T u r ke y Left: The recent and Palestine. refugee crisis marked the first digital Education is migration,with smartphones playing a not her fla shp oi nt . a central role Of t he 2 2 . 5 m i l l ion ref ugees worldwide seeking asylum, hundreds of thousands are young students whose university years have shuddered to a halt. Reenrollment is fraught with barriers both physical and administrative: paperwork may be lost or missing, while visa and legal constraints can slow the process to a crawl. Few refugees have the money to meet tuition fees, while foreign students may lack the fluency to attend English-language universities. Kiron Open Higher Education, founded in Germany in 2015, hopes to come to their rescue. The Berlin-based startup aims to offer refugees internationally recognised degrees, for free, without the need for complete paperwork. Its model uses digital learning to offer students two-year online courses in subjects ranging from engineering, to computer studies, to business and management. Students then have the option to transfer to a partner university and finish their studies on campus.
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Curricula is shaped by top universities such as Harvard and Yale, while leading digital learning providers such as EdX and Coursera offer the courses on their existing platforms. “A refugee student can start studying with us online right away, they don't have to pay anything and they don't need documentation,” explains Hila Azadzoy, head of strategic partnerships and part of Kiron’s founding team. “They get their academic credentials recognised for everything they have done with us, then go on to the partner university and finish with a fully accredited bachelor’s degree.” So far Kiron is working in four countries where it has registered some 5,000 students, 2,700 of
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which are currently active. Nearly half of these students originate from Syria where, prior to the war, 25 per cent of 18 to 22 year olds were pursuing higher education. Afghanistan and Somalia contribute 12 per cent and 5 per cent of the student body respectively. K iron is pa r tnered with 41 institutions globally and has been funded through a mix of private and public money, including via one of Germany’s most successful social start-up crowdfunding campaigns. “We are focusing on specific countries because we have limited resources,” says Azadzoy, whose own father migrated to Germany in the 1970s.
“While the platform is highly scalable, the support services we are offering are a bit less so. To make sure every student gets the guidance they need we’re now focusing these support services in Germany, Turkey, France and Jordan.” Technology isn’t a panacea. But digital connectivity has the potential to shake up the traditional delivery of aid, using the innovation, capacity and scale the tech sector has become known for. Better use of data, shaped by closer tie-ups between NGOs and tech providers, has the potential to generate real impact for refugees, migrants and the displaced. As migration becomes digital, so too must the aid response to it. —
While millions of Syrians wait for the opportunity to return home, one charity is laying the groundwork for regeneration. Jusoor is mobilising the countryâ€™s diaspora to bring hope to young Syrians disadvantaged by half a decade of conflict Writer: Andrew White Photography: John Marsland
IKE MANY SYRIANS DURING THE BLOODY
summer of 2012, Hani Jesri was looking for a way out of Damascus – and the country. “Everything had changed forever: my plans, my dreams and my future,” he recalls today. “It was devastating.” Born and raised in Aleppo, the young economics graduate had expected to spend his life in Syria, and to build a career with NGOs working to improve the lives of children and youth. Now, as limited resources swung away from long-term developmental projects and behind emergency relief efforts, he was left with nothing to do but escape the violence. He found his lifeline via Facebook, and an internship opportunity at a small nonprofit by the name of Jusoor, meaning ‘bridges’ in Arabic. He would apply successfully for the nine-month unpaid role, taking the first step of a journey that would take him to Lebanon and eventually on to the UK. Five years later, at the age of 29, he is living in London and credits Jusoor with having opened a world of possibilities for him. “For someone like me inside Syria, with very limited access to opportunities, Jusoor was a second chance,” he says. “They gave me hope for the country and for its future.” Juso or, t he bra i nch i ld of a ha nd f u l of likeminded Syrian expatriates, is dedicated to delivering programmes in education and career development around the world. Over the last six years it has persuaded members of the Syrian diaspora to donate more than $5.6m to support Syrian youth. As importantly, it has mobilised that diaspora’s expertise to priceless benefit: Jusoor today counts more than 100,000 individuals in its network from more than 50 countries. The inspiration for Jusoor predates the current conflict by a matter of weeks. In early 2011, a small group of Syrian expatriates were toying with the idea of launching a mentorship programme to help students looking to study at university abroad. When fighting erupted, those thoughts turned quickly to action, and evolved to incorporate funding as well as intellectual support. “The Syrian expatriate community is huge: we’re talking about as many as 20 million people, as many as there are inside the country itself,” says Dania Ismail, one of the cofounders. “We felt that there was no network bringing people together and we thought we could play that role and build a bridge into the country to help people.” The resultant scholarship scheme leverages a consortium of more than 70 institutions offering full or part scholarships to young Syrians, and has so far placed more than 500 students at universities in the US, Canada, Europe, Middle East and Asia. It has also matched mentors with more than 600 students looking for guidance
on the university application process and other academic choices that will shape their futures. “As a Syrian expatriate you naturally draw a comparison between yourself and the youth that are inside the country,” says Aziza Osman, a social entrepreneur and startup advisor, and Jusoor board member. “What Jusoor has done is provide every Syrian who has left, with a platform to give back.” The publication of detailed annual reports, as well as operational costs below 10 per cent of total spend, helps attract and retain supporters. Currently individuals are responsible for some 51 per cent of donations, with corporations resp onsible for a not her 3 6 p er c ent , a nd foundations accounting for the rest. Nor does the private sector contribution stop there: while
financial support is invaluable, so too is the lending of time and talent by leading multinationals in the region and beyond. “They [corporates] want to give back to society, they want to help different causes and with many of them it’s not just money that they want to provide, but their employees’ time and experience,” says Rami Zayat, another Jusoor cofounder. The impact of corporate support is perhaps felt most keenly at Jusoor’s career development workshops, which take place in Dubai and were launched in 2012 in response to the influx of young Syrians into the Gulf. Private companies host one- or two-day workshops on choosing a career, matching to the right jobs, and the honing of skillsets including CV writing, job interviews and portfolio development.
Another Jusoor initiative to leverage healthy cor porate back ing is a n entrepreneurship programme which aims to identify Syria’s business leaders of the future – and plug them into a network of international partners and investors that can help scale new products and ideas. St a r t ups i n Sy r ia face a w ide ra nge of obstacles. Some are a mechanical consequence of the conflict: physical insecurity, collapsing infrastructure, power cuts, and slow internet. Others are economic or bureaucratic: sanctions a nd pay ment restrictions, restrictions on movement of people and goods, a diminishing market, a lack of financial support and investment, and an unfriendly regulatory environment that is enough to suffocate new business before it gets off the ground.
Yet despite these challenges, while rates of poverty and unemployment are soaring, so too are the numbers of Syrians embracing entrepreneurship. A recent study interviewed 268 people over 12 months and found a significant increase in the number of people working on a startup idea in 2015 (65.8 per cent), compared to the year before (52.2 per cent). According to Ismail, who has a background in venture capital with Dubai-based MBC Group, Jusoor recognised the emergence of this new commercial class and now employs mentorship, incubators and competitions in order to build skills and confidence. “I was exposed to a lot of entrepreneurs around the region, however it always felt like the Syrians were a little bit behind compared to their peers,” she explains.
“They didn’t have access to resources and training facilities, the industry wasn’t as developed and then the war came along and made everything even worse. So it always felt like there was room to improve.” So far more than 700 companies have applied and 100 have taken part in ‘bootcamps’ in Beirut and Berlin. Startups are exposed to Jusoor partners and given training in building a business model, structuring their financials, pitching for funding, and more. It’s a precious opportunity: one young man was so determined to attend that he took 26 hours to travel the short distance from Aleppo to Beirut, after his bus was run off the road by gunfire courtesy of Islamic State. “He showed up three days late, but he made it,” smiles Ismail. “ There are a lot of those stories of people trying so hard to make it. This is their lifeline and from the day they come in, to two weeks later, it’s crazy how much they are transformed.”
HE REMAINING PILL AR OF THE JUSOOR
offering is its refugee education programme in Lebanon, launched in 2013 under the direction of Hani Jesri, who after his internship volunteered to pilot the scheme. The building of three education centres in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley has so far helped more than 3,400 children of primary school age to make the leap back into formal education. “At first we provided schooling for refugees because the Lebanese system wasn’t available to them – schools were over capacity and even then the registration fee of $60 was more than most [refugees] could afford,” says Osman. “When the Lebanese Ministry of Education opened up the second shift and gave education for free, an influx of Syrians went to formal school,” she continues. “That is a good thing, but we realised that a lot of them weren’t at the level they needed to be for that system.” Jusoor expanded to offer accelerated remedial classes to enable Syrian refugees to catch up with their peers in Lebanon. Today it works closely – if informally – with the Ministry to ensure that they are pulling in the same direction to assist young Syrians both inside and outside the school system. “As we continue to grow we are always trying to fill an area of need,” says Zayat. “Today, once [the children] are in school we follow them and support them because the idea’s not just to get into school, but to succeed.” There is a need to salvage something from this “lost generation”, says Ismail, to enable Syrian youth to reconstruct not just infrastructure but institutions. There is also an opportunity to relaunch the narrative around that generation.
“What Jusoor has done is to provide every Syrian who has left, with a platform to give back”
“Right now people just see Syrians as refugees because that’s all they see in the media,” she says. “We’re trying to show Syrians from a positive perspective: they are intelligent, talented, and can contribute to society in different ways and forms.” Back in London, Hani Jesri’s trajectory is testament to what Syrian youth can accomplish if given the chance. In 2016 he achieved his Masters degree in Public Policy at the University of Oxford, supported by a scholarship from the UK-based Saïd Foundation. He has since completed a two-month placement with the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID), working on DFID’s engagement with Syrian civil society and studying how NGOs might better contribute to programming and policy advocacy. He credits his opportunities at Oxford and DFID to his experience with refugee children at Jusoor. And like many members of the Jusoor family, he now balances a full-time career with pro bono work for the charity that changed his life. One day, he hopes to parlay those efforts into a future in policymaking in education in Syria. Today he is classified as a refugee, unable to return home. Tomorrow, he will help rebuild from what remains of that home. “Even though I can’t be in Syria, everything I have done and everything I am doing is for my return there,” he says. “Until then we have millions of Syrians all over the world who need support. That’s what Jusoor does: it allows us to help those who need it.” —
Photography: Michael Christopher Brown
SOLUTION Refugees can help boost economies â€“ if only they are given the right to work. Jessica Holland lays out the business case for seeing refugees as a benefit, not a burden
N THE MIDST OF THE SYRIAN REFUGEE
crisis in 2014, Aline Sara was in Beirut strug gling to find a tutor to help improve her conversational Arabic. Formal courses were too expensive for the recent graduate, and focused too narrowly on the written dialect. The search sparked an idea. Lebanon is home to at least 1 million Syrian refugees – among them former doctors, engineers and teachers – but legal barriers mean few can work. What if Sara connected Syrian refugees to Arabic learners for hour-long video chats to improve their conversational skills? Engaging refugees as tutors would offer them a way to earn money – and also give language students an opp or t u n it y to hone t hei r A rabic w it h native speakers. Natakallam – which means ‘we speak’ in Arabic – launched in 2015. To date, it has enabled more than 60 refugees in 11 countries to tutor 1,500 students, while universities including the US’ George Washington, Northeastern and Tufts connect their students to the platform. Tutors receive $10 an hour, paid via a local NGO if they are unable to obtain an official work permit, and a further $5 paid by the student goes towards Natakallam’s running costs. By the end of this year, Sara hopes to provide 100 refugees living in Lebanon with full-time work. “People all across the planet are excited to feel like they’re contributing to supporting displaced people,” she says. “A lot of us feel helpless, and it’s a tangible, direct solution.” Around the world, more than 22 million people have fled across borders to escape spiraling conflict, persecution and poverty. Many will spend years in exile – and a significant number will never return home. In Dadaab, the world’s second-largest refugee camp, established in Kenya in 1992, second- and third-generation refugees are being born in tents. In many host countries, a combination of legal restrictions, cultural factors and language barriers conspire to block refugees’ access to job markets. In some countries – such as Lebanon and Jordan, which have borne the brunt of the fallout from the war in Syria – work permits are limited in order to protect already scarce employment opportunities for native citizens. The result is that refugees can spend years in limbo, unable to earn a living and with eroding skillsets, dependent on aid handouts or illegal jobs to survive. Too often they are painted as victims, very rarely as degree-holders, or professionals, or as people with diverse knowledge and skills to share. “This waste of talent is senseless in a world where many employers have trouble filling skilled positions,” says Sayre Nyce, executive
“THIS WASTE OF TALENT IS SENSELESS IN A WORLD WHERE MANY EMPLOYERS HAVE TROUBLE FILLING SKILLED POSITIONS”
Right: Allowing refugees to work benefits both refugee families and the host country's economy
director of Talent Beyond Boundaries. Launched in 2016, the US-based social enterprise operates a global database of refugees’ professional profiles that can be browsed by employers in developed nations. When a match is made, the refugee is able to migrate to a new country with a job already in place. The scheme is being piloted with refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, and the goal is to have relocated 10 to 30 people to jobs in countries such as Canada, Australia and Morocco by end-2018. “There is broad consensus that refugees need additional safe, legal ways to move and rebuild their lives,” Nyce says. “To us, it seemed natural that someone should be creating a pathway to help refugees put their skills to use in companies and countries that need them. We as a global community can do more to recognise refugees as assets with expertise to offer.” In high-income countries with ageing workforces and particular skill shortages, allowing more refugees into the workforce can be of benefit. Sweden and Germany have welcomed a high number of migrants in recent years, compared to other European countries, and in both cases GDP has continued to grow, while unemployment rates have held steady or fallen. I n p o orer host c ou nt r ies, t he pat h is more complex. Giving refugees open access to the labour market in nations with high unemployment, for example, could trigger unrest. Innovative, government-led employment schemes are being piloted, but can be slow to take root. The Jordan Compact, for example, signed in 2016, pledged more refugee hiring in Jordan in return for grants, low-interest loans, and special trade deals with the European Union. Progress has been made, with 38,516 permits issued to refugees by February 2017, according to Ministry of Labour data, but it falls short of the 200,000 permits promised originally. A similar deal was struck in Ethiopia, which is home to more than 700,000 refugees, mostly from South Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. In September 2016, the government made a deal with the UK, EU and the World Bank to give employment rights to 30,000 refugees, in return for funding for two industrial parks which would create 100,000 jobs overall. “This at an early stage,” says Nicholas Grisewood, a specialist in crisis migration at the International Labour Organisation, “but it’s a big step forward.” This type of scheme offers economic wins for both the native community and refugees — but there are still problems to be ironed out, according to Heaven Crawley, chair of international migration at Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations.
In Jordan, for example, domestic labour was one of the work permit categories opened up to refugees. But Jordanian households, Crawley says, prefer non-Arabic speakers working for them, and Syrian women often don’t want to work as domestic labourers. “You have to understand the particular dynamic,” she says. “The key is to get people into the mainstream labour market. People need to be given support and retraining and recognition of their qualifications, so they can enter the labour market on the same terms as everyone else.” Ideally, she says, leaders would invest in programmes —“whether they’re in Uganda or
the UK” — that bring together diverse groups of unemployed people, including refugees and others, and trains them together. This type of initiative “can serve that dual purpose, of bring ing people together, cha lleng ing stereotypes, and building relations, as well as providing employment. There’s much more value added,” she explains. Companies and social startups are also attempting to bridge the divide. LinkedIn created a programme in 2016 to connect refugees in Sweden with internships and jobs, and a longerrunning scheme in Canada called Immigrant Access Fund has lent $17m to 2,700 immigrants,
including refugees, since 2003. The loans are backed by the government and by private donors, and allow the recipients to train, get licenses and set up businesses. In the UK, a social enterprise called TERN is helping a small annual cohort of refugees become entrepreneurs, by giving them mentoring, access to loans, and – as of this year – part-time employment with ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, paid at the London Living Wage, while they complete the programme. “Gaining access to credit and traditional entrepreneurial capital is very difficult for refugees,” says TERN cofounder Charlie Fraser. “Big corporate banks being more willing to lend to refugees, that would be a huge thing. It’s on us to convince them.” The idea of TERN was born in 2015 when Fraser, then a student, helped deliver aid to refugees on the Greek island of Cos, and later Calais in France. He felt the media painted them as “victims, burdens or even threats,” and learned that unemployment rates among refugees in the UK was much higher than the national average of 4.8 per cent. Together with two cofounders, he realised entrepreneurship could provide “a route around the barriers that refugees face in getting into the labour market.” In October 2016 the trio launched a pilot programme with three refugees: a Zimbabwean fashion designer, a Syrian app designer working on a mobile-credit platform, and a Syrian software developer who created a platform for media verification. A second cohort of 15 completed the programme this summer; a third, of 25, will start in the autumn. Financial consu lta ncy Oliver Wy ma n has invested £ 50,0 0 0 ($6 4, 50 0) so fa r i n enter pr ises launched by TERN, and a further £10,000 has been funnelled towards product development from grants. “The much bigger aim,” Fraser says, “is to change the conversation about refugees. It’s a great challenge for my generation.” It’s a complex and time-consuming process, figuring out to get the world’s tens of millions of refugees into steady work. But there are encourag ing sig ns that the internationa l community is starting to take the problem seriously. Policy frameworks are being put together painstakingly, but in the meantime, the refugee crisis remains as urgent as ever. “This isn’t a short-term problem that needs a temporary fix,” Crawley says. “This is permanent. This is how life is going to be from now on. There is nothing that is going to happen that will end refugee movement. So it’s not just about putting a sticking plaster on ‘the problem of the refugees,’ it’s about creating opportunities for all.” —
F R O M T HE A S H E S
DRIVEN AND BRIGHT, PALESTINEâ€™S YOUTH ARE ITS FUTURE. AS PALESTINE MARKS 50 YEARS OF OCCUPATION, WE MEET THE PEOPLE HOPING TO WRITE A NEW STORY FOR THE GENERATIONS TO COME
Writer: Adrienne Cernigoi
Photography: Christopher Anderson
Below and right: Fifty years of conflict have left 5 million Palestinians in need of UNRWA support
HALF-CENTURY OF SEMI-PEACE AND
semi-war has cast a long pall over Palestine’s people. On 5 June 1967 Israeli forces swept through east Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories. The latest in a series of conflicts, the six-day war quickly laid claim to the West Bank and the Gaza strip, setting the scene for 50 years of dispute and displacement, and birthing what remains the world’s longest-running military occupation. C oupled w it h ne a rly seven dec ades of dislocation since the first Arab-Israeli war, life for Palestine’s refugees is bleak. The main caretaker of the fallout, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), has seen the number of people in its care spiral from 750,000 in 1948 to some 5 million today, encompassing four generations of Palestinians. More than 40 per cent of the refugees it supports live in Gaza and the West Bank, 40 per cent live in Jordan and the remainder reside in Lebanon and Syria – still stateless, after decades of exile. The challenges vary from place to place. Although Lebanon shelters the most refugees per capita, legal barriers – from restrictions on owning property, to a ban from working in some 36 professions – means 65 per cent of the 450,000 Palestinians there live in poverty, eking out $195 a month, less than half the average for their Lebanese counterparts, according to UNRWA. The sit u at ion for fa m i l ie s i n Sy r ia i s , predictably, dire. Since the outbreak of civil war, 460,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria need aid. A further 42,000 – twice displaced – now swell the ranks of refugees in Lebanon with an additional 16,000 in Jordan. “ They represent a nother generation of Palestinians suffering a loss of identity, livelihood and a home,” says Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA’s commissioner-general. “The level of dispossession and despair among that community is extreme.” Meanwhile Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants live amid a land, sea and air blockade, imposed by Israel after Hamas’ takeover of the strip in 2007. The economic siege has slashed Gaza’s GDP in half, according to the World Bank. In 2000, UNRWA counted some 80,000 Gazans eligible for food aid; today, they number almost 1 million. “It’s a painful moment when people thank me for UNRWA’s food assistance,” admits Krähenbühl. “Until a few years ago, that refugee was probably employed or running a small export business. The market has disappeared because of the blockade and the conditions for employment have been largely wiped out.” Joblessness is rife, touching 44 per cent of Gaza’s 1.2 million refugees. Among young people it rises to 67 per cent, likely a “world record” for youth unemployment Krähenbühl adds.
Work is precarious for many of the Palestinian communities across the region: unemployment stands at 23 per cent in Lebanon, while Jordan’s urban refugees earn around $1.80 an hour, according to a 2013 study. The cost is more than a set of indicators: it represents imperilled futures too. The first generation of Palestinian refugees faced the immediate trauma of displacement but they had hope for a solution, notes Krähenbühl. In contrast, more recent generations must g r apple w it h w iden i n g d iv i sion s a mon g Palestinians, a stalled peace process and everevolving conflicts in the wider Middle East that have pushed their plight down the global development agenda. “Young people today face an overlapping set of pressures and a closed political horizon,” he says. “When I walk into an UNRWA school I am worried
they consider us as their only future, and that is not desirable for anyone.” With a political deal a dim prospect, linking Palestinians to jobs is the most pressing challenge today. Young, educated people are the Palestinians’ greatest challenge – and greatest asset. The number of students in Palestine enrolled in higher education jumped 940 per cent between 1993 and 2011, according to the UN; a flash of hope for a brighter future. For its part, UNRWA runs schools for more than 500,000 students. Krähenbühl describes the efforts of a student council in Aleppo identifying traumatised pupils who drop out of school and encouraging them to rejoin the classroom. “There was a real sense of ownership in these young people; it is a side the world doesn’t appreciate enough.” Getting students from school into work,
training or further study is the “missing link” according to Krähenbühl. Partly, this means aid and development outfits working more closely with the private sector and governments. One place where this has shown promise is Jordan, where a “high percentage” of students at UNRWA’s vocational training centres find jobs, he adds. Krähenbühl remains hopeful. In a recent interview, he noted the last thing Palestinians need is a pessimistic commissioner-general. It is a sentiment he sticks to today. “In conflict zones, one forgets the humanity of the people behind the community. I see a lot of optimism in these students: they are energetic, courageous and engaged in their studies,” he says. “I’m determined to continue to invest in them.” Over the following pages, from writers, to companies, to entrepreneurs, we meet the people and organisations intent on doing the same.
E D U C A T I O N F I R S T Melek El Nimer – founder, ULYP
ITH 20 YEARS UNDER HER BELT WORKING
in Lebanon’s refugee camps, Melek El Nimer knows education is the answer for young Palestinians. The question, however, is not how to get more kids into schools, or even enrolled in online education – the solution de jour for the region's displaced generation. The question is how to propel educated young refugees into jobs. “You have a Palestinian refugee with a degree but he is unemployed. You have doctors who are taxi drivers because it is the only job they can find,” she says fiercely. “That shouldn’t happen.” Her nonprofit, Unite Lebanon Youth Project (ULYP) targets the issue head-on. ULYP’s Bridge programme in particular helps Palestinians in camps or enrolled at UNRWA schools find the money to attend top-tier universities such as the American University of Beirut and University College London – the types of institutions that will help them secure jobs, and not just degree certificates. So far, ULYP has helped more than 661 students. El Nimer says 80 per cent of her class of 2013-14 and 60 per cent of the class of 2014-15 are employed or in further education. One student at UWC Atlantic College in the US has gone on to attend a summer programme at Yale, she adds proudly. Yet even for refugees armed with a first-class degree, there are always more mountains to climb. “The biggest problem is work visas,” she laments, adding she hopes a lot of the graduates don’t return to Lebanon. “What is there to come back to? This community has been been stuck in a vicious limbo of refugee camps, war and unemployment.” Life for Syrian refugees in Turkey shows what can be achieved if the will is there, according to El Nimer. The Turkish government has allowed refugees to work and opened up the public school and university system to them, she says. “If you have a [Palestinian] engineer who gets a good job in Dubai, he isn’t going to return to the camp,” says El Nimer. “I see education as a long-term shortcut to a better life. “I know what we are doing is the right thing,” she adds. “Education works and we have the success stories to prove it.”
Photography: Celia Peterson
B E T T E R C O N N E C T E D Chaker Khazaal – author and advocate
HERE IS A ROUGH BEAUTY IN THE HARDSHIP
of refugee life. It breeds a defining quality – the determination to survive and, somehow, to thrive. Yet, this resolve ebbs with each succeeding generation as displacement drags on and saps morale, argues Chaker Khazaal, a PalestinianCanadian author. In its place, however, current and future generations of Palestinians will have a new asset: communication. “The young generation can convey the daily life of a refugee to the world, through social media for example,” says the 29-year-old writer and refugee advocate. “Communicating the reality is the first step towards results and change.” A third-generation refugee, Khazaal grew up in Lebanon’s Bourj El Barajneh refugee camp before gaining a scholarship to attend York University in Toronto, Canada. Through his fiction, he aims to put human faces, emotions and experiences to the word ‘refugee’.
Having a voice means young refugees can start lobbying for immediate needs, chiefly jobs, he says. In Lebanon in particular, Palestinians need better spokespeople to help change policies that lock Palestinians out of certain professions, and limit their ability to progress. The era of global communication offers other opportunities, too. The gig economy can be harnessed to hire refugees remotely for jobs such as coding, argues Khazaal. Creating real chances to work will help refugees transition away from a dependency upon aid, and companies have a vital role to play in this transition. “I’ve been on the receiving end of charity. We don’t need more charity,” he says. “We brag about the openness of the internet and how small it makes our world. Now we need to apply this connectivity to integrate refugees into the global workforce.” The onus is on governments, the private sector and NGOs to band together and encourage development – rather than aid-led – solutions, he adds. “I’m hopeful in the next 10 years we’ll see more [job creation] initiatives. It’s our duty, whether as former refugees or people who care about our wellbeing, to address the job market.”
C A L L O F C R O W D
T H E
Anas Hamed – founder, CrowdPal
HE TALE OF PALESTINIAN SUFFERING IS
well known; it is time to shake things up, says Anas Hamed, whose father left Palestine in the 1960s. “Ten, even five years ago the Palestinian diaspora was so busy concentrating on the story of suffering, they weren’t in a position to think about a new story of hope,” he says. “Now, I can see a paradigm shift in thinking. We need a new narrative.” CrowdPal hopes to be part of that reboot. Launched in May by Hamed – who lives in Chile – CrowdPal is an online equity crowdfunding platform that aims to funnel investment to Palestinian startups, to businesses run by diaspora entrepreneurs or to startups creating jobs in Palestine. It hopes to attract seed funding – typically around $250,000 each – to help get firms that can create economic and social impact for Palestinians off the ground, Hamed says. CrowdPal will take a 5 per cent slice of the money raised and 10 per cent interest, plus some admin costs. The platform has links to startup accelerators in Palestine, Chile and across Latin America, to help identify promising firms. Mentoring is a critical part of the business model. Set to launch last November, the platform hit a bump when it discovered a “very limited pipeline” of investment-ready entrepreneurs in Palestine. Hamad hopes CrowdPal’s coaching will help Palestinian entrepreneurs overcome a “psychology of limitation”, forged by years of hurdles and setbacks. A handful of startups signed on to CrowdPal just in its first few weeks. The first campaign aims to raise $300,000 for a Chilean-Palestinian peer-to-peer lending company called Red Capital. CrowdPal hopes to run campaigns for at least four startups in its first year. Tappi ng i nto d ia spora money is a key strategy – in Chile at first, before reaching out to the Americas, Middle East and Europe. Roughly 500,000 Palestinian descendants live in Chile, for example. One of CrowdPal’s cofounders, a third generation Chilean-Palestinian, is drawing on his venture capital background to get the ball rolling. “For the first [campaign] we have about 70 investors interested,” says Hamed. “We k now a lot of investors in the Pa lestinia n diaspora, it wasn’t a difficult job. I am hopeful there will be more such initiatives diverting f rom t h i s m i nd s e t of v ic t i m ho o d . I f we create a shift in thinking, even peace can be approached differently.”
C O R P O R A T E C L O U T Hashim Shawa – chairman, Bank of Palestine
MPROVIN G PROSPECT S FOR PALE STINE ’S
people demands all hands on deck. Yet one sector is yet to pull its weight. Many big, local companies still have an unsophisticated, PR-centric view of corporate social responsibility (CSR), says Kamel Husseini, chief international and investor relations officer at the Bank of Palestine. “If you count the companies in Palestine that take CSR seriously, it’s maybe two or three at the most,” he rues. Founded in 1960 by the Shawa family, Bank of Palestine is one of the largest financial institutions in the territories. The bank supports a slew of initiatives, funded by setting aside 6 per cent of its profits each year. A long-term UNRWA donor, it also donates to Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG), Gaza’s first startup accelerator, pays for staff at Palestinian universities to undertake training abroad, and
funds arts organisations such as the Edward Said Conservatory of Music. The bank is keen to apply all its assets. Some of its IT staff mentor entrepreneurs at GSG and the bank uses its network of contacts to link diaspora donors to UNRWA. Last year, Bank of Palestine expanded its role to include impact investment. The bank tied up with two other firms and business leaders including Samer Khoury and Fadi Ghandour to launch Ibtikar, an $10.5m fund to provide seed money for startups in Palestine. Some 80 per cent of the fund’s investors are Palestinian. “We wanted to close an early stage funding gap between angel investment and venture capital, in order to get projects to the next level of investments,” explains Hashim Shawa, the bank’s chairman and general manager. “This is our commitment to the future of Palestine, by investing in its youth and standing with them.” In a sign of confidence in Ibtikar’s impact, a second, $30m phase of the fund is in the works. “Palestine today has a generation of young entrepreneurs that are daring, impatient, willing
to explore and… [who are] intent on challenging the status quo,” says Shawa. Another project on the drawing board is a coding training programme in Gaza with UNRWA. If the trial is successful, the hope is that other donors will step in to scale it up. “The knowledge economy is the future for Gaza if we want to overcome the constraints in land, water and resources,” says Husseini. “That means we need to equip students with soft skills and coding skills.” Still, the scale of the need requires more local companies to jump in and “complete, not compete” with projects, according to Husseini. “We need coordination and innovation,” he says. “[The private sector] needs to be more strategic and put our dollar strength together to create bigger impact.” Despite the challenges, says Shawa, there is little doubt Palestinians have the grit and drive to succeed. “They have had to deal with physical and nonphysical barriers all their lives. They have become experts at demolishing barriers. That is a spirit not present elsewhere, or at least not with the same vigour.” —
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From the US to Cairo, Adam Grundey meets the social entrepreneurs putting a fresh slant on business as usual
Illustration: Yu-Ming Huang
Food for thought Manal Kahi – US
ANY BOSSES CLAIM THEIR COMPANY IS LIKE A FAMILY. IN
the case of New York-based food delivery service Eat Offbeat, however, it’s more than just a cliché. The for-profit business, which was founded by Manal Kahi and her brother Wissam in late 2015, hires refugees to cook their native cuisines for corporate clients or private parties, catering for as many as 800 people. “When you go to the kitchen, it does feel like a family, because everyone has empathy for the others because they’ve all been through the same thing,” says Manal. “And, of course, they’re all cooking together, and usually you do that with family.” The close-knit team contains its own support mechanism for new arrivals, she adds. “There’s always someone who will offer help with the commute, or explain how to open up a bank account – all the little details.” Eat Offbeat was born of hummus, and the global refugee crisis. The siblings had moved to the US from Lebanon to attend college, when Manal, missing the taste of homemade food, began preparing hummus at home based on a recipe passed down by her Syrian grandmother. Her friends were wowed by how much better it tasted than the brands available in supermarkets and restaurants. “That’s when we realised there was a business opportunity,” says Manal.
“People want to hear a different story and they want to show that they support what we’re doing, especially in the current political climate”
At the same time, a refugee crisis was unfolding in the Middle East, with millions of Syrians fleeing across the border to Lebanon and other neighbouring Arab states. “It was a natural connection to say, ‘Why not have Syrian refugees make great hummus, or whatever else, and introduce New Yorkers to it?’” she explains. A $25,000 grant from Colombia University’s Tamer Fund for Social Ventures, matched by a similar amount from the founders, was enough to get Eat Offbeat up and running. A little over 18 months in and the business is stable and profitable. Kahi says they are “growing every month”, and the staff is too. Currently there are four people working on the admin side and “a mix of around 20 full and part-time chefs and delivery operators,” hailing from countries including Syria, Iraq and Eritrea. Signature dishes range from a Nepalese cauliflower dish called Manchurian, to Iraqi biryani. Kahi admits that many customers come at first because they’re intrigued by Eat Offbeat’s story and social message. “We know, from experience, that there are a lot of people – at least in New York – who support us and support our mission,” she says. “They want to hear a different story and they want to show that they support what we’re doing, especially in the current political climate. So they buy our food, initially, as a way to voice their opinions.” But, she stresses, “most of our customers come back. And when they come back, they’re coming back for the food, because it’s really good”. That’s no doubt helped by the fact that chief culinary officer, Juan Suarez de Lezo, is a professional chef who’d previously worked at Michelin-starred restaurants. “And he’s the one training [our chefs] to make sure it’s all standardised”. Kahi says it’s hard to put an accurate number on repeat custom right now “because we’re still growing, so we have a lot of new customers”, but ventures that, compared to the industry standard, “it’s a very good rate”. In the future, Kahi says they would like to see Eat Offbeat replicated in “every city where there is a community of what we like to call ‘adventurous eaters’ – those who are willing to go the extra mile to discover new, off-the-beatenpath cuisines. And cities that are also hosting newly arrived refugees, of course.” An equally important goal is that Eat Offbeat’s staff become known for something other than their official status. “Clearly our mission is that we hire refugees,” she says. “But we know from them that they don’t like people to frame them by their status. They want people to see them beyond that: as mothers, family members, great chefs, artists, or whatever else.”
Click for a cause Salem Massalha – Egypt
HEN SALEM MASSALHA AND HIS BUSINESS PARTNER,
Alban de Ménonville, first came up with their fundraising idea in 2014, they were so surprised no one had thought of it before that they named it Bassita, which means ‘simple’. And simple it is. Bassita’s technology enables a company to track all of a campaign’s interactions on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or Instagram. Every time someone likes, shares or comments on a campaign – once it passes a specific target – a sponsor pays for the impact. They call it ‘clickfunding’. In 2014, Massalha and de Ménonville were living in Cairo, and had been for several years. Both men are French, and Massalha has Egyptian heritage. “When we saw the incredible impact social media had on society throughout the Arab Spring, we thought that if we could create a new model that would harness that energy to create a positive impact for society, we would have a very strong model,” Massalha says. “Many companies pay a lot of money to have visibility online, so, for us, it’s a very organic evolution of social media to allow web users, just by interacting, to create some impact. “Social media penetration is booming in the region,” he adds. “The whole idea of clickfunding was to use this energy to create a better future and a better region.” The format is straightforward. A client, typically a foundation or other social initiative, will approach Bassita to help promote a particular campaign “We’re a for-profit social enterprise. Making money is our proof of sustainability”
or cause. “We’re being paid for our work, and that can include creating a concept, producing a video, and tracking the campaign,” Massalha says. “What we don’t take is any commission on the funds that are raised.” Instead, sponsors come on board, and pledge donations once the campaign reaches a certain level of popularity. “The idea is to create a win-win-win situation,” Massalha explains. “A win for the NGO, which creates awareness and funds for its initiative; a win for the sponsor, who will pay for the amount of visibility he receives online, but also partners with the web user for a better future; and a win for the web user who, by clicking, creates a positive impact for his community.” A campaign between Bassita and UNICEF, the UN’s children fund, involved a video starring Egyptian comedian Maged Al-Kedwany and was viewed, organically, more than 2 million times on Facebook in three days. That meant around $150,000 was raised from three sponsors – Hilton Hotels, Careem, and SC Johnson – to fund the installation of 1,000 water connections to low-income homes in Upper Egypt. Bassita began without any investment: “We’ve been bootstrapping since day one,” Massalha says. The company did win several prizes, which helped financially, but the decision not to raise funds was deliberate. “We wanted to have complete freedom to develop the model,” Massalha explains. “It’s better, and easier, for us to have no [outside] influence right now. Once we’re 100 per cent confident, we will look for investors.” It shouldn’t be difficult to find interested parties. As Massalha points out, clickfunding is very scalable. “It’s a model that can travel and scale up very easily – you can make very small campaigns or huge campaigns,” he says. Just as crucially, Bassita has proved that clickfunding is profitable. “We’re transparent about it; we’re a for-profit social enterprise,” Massalha says. “Making money is our proof of sustainability. I think it’s really part of the identity of a social enterprise to have two types of KPIs. The first one is the beneficiaries and the second one is profit. And neither KPI can be disconnected from the other, or you’re no longer a social enterprise.” Within five years, Massalha hopes that clickfunding will have spread from Egypt to, well, everywhere. “This idea, born in Cairo, has the capacity and the potential to acquire new markets in Europe, the US and the region,” he says. “The Middle East has incredible potential in terms of its creativity, education level and cultural heritage, which can be used to create a better future.”
Taking the lead Aboudi Qattan – US
THINK THERE’S A STIGMA AROUND PHILANTHROPY THAT
implies ‘I’m rich and I have some extra money, so I’m going to give it to a cause that I like.’ That’s not what we’re trying to do.” Aboudi Qattan, co-founder and president of the social enterprise Al Tareeq, is explaining the motivation behind his company, which teaches entrepreneurship skills to private school students in Arab countries, and then uses the funds raised to provide similar courses to refugee students. “It isn’t a charity,” the 23-year-old, born in Houston to Palestinian parents, and raised in London from the age of 11, continues. “But I would never charge a refugee for a project. I want these kids to be able to go to school in America, too, and [counter] what most Americans see of Arabs on the TV or hear about on the news. If these kids come in with a more entrepreneurial vibe and mindset, it’s going to change a lot of things. The goal would then be for them to come back and give back to their community.” Al Tareeq’s curriculum is based on what Qattan learnt at the US-based Babson College, which he describes as “the best entrepreneurial school in the world”. The business began life as an on-campus club in 2015, with the aim of helping to raise awareness about the Middle East, but on
“I want these kids to be able to go to school in America and counter what most Americans see of Arabs on the TV or the news”
seeing the response, Qattan’s professors told him: “this is more than a club, you should try and do something with this.” The result was a plan to teach business and leadership skills to private school students in the Levant through summer bootcamps, and to use the profits to fund similar, free courses for refugees hosted in local camps. “Essentially, the idea is to model Babson’s entrepreneurial education to provide high school students in the Middle East with an opportunity to use business as a way to solve problems in their community, earn an income and contribute to the economy,” Qattan explains. Aside from benefitting refugees, Al Tareeq is also dedicated to gender equality. At least 50 per cent of students in a class must be female. Al Tareeq has partnered with the nonprofit Fikra 3al Mashi to deliver its classes, beginning last summer with a two-week pilot project for 20 students in Jordan’s Zarqa refugee camp. The pair hope to join forces in the near future to create a new organisation, where the founders of Fikra will remain in charge of organising the refugee projects, while Qattan focuses on offering his curriculum to private school students around the Middle East. Qattan insists that Al Tareeq’s courses – particularly the ones created for refugee students – are not just simply about how to plan and launch a business. “The skills I’m trying to teach are life skills. Can you compose yourself in front of a group of people? Can you work with others? It’s about problem solving, confidence and leadership,” he says. “It’s about understanding how, if you’re hit by adversity, you can get around it as opposed to retreating. That’s the biggest thing: encouraging these students to understand that the idea is to keep going.” It is advice Qattan has been following himself with Al Tareeq. “We’re really taking our time. There’s no need to rush it. I believe that, in 10 years, it’s going to be all over the Middle East, summer camps everywhere, and that kids are going to start businesses as a result of these classes. I’m confident in that,” he says. Qattan says his drive to get involved in social entrepreneurship came from his family. His grandfather and father both started their own nonprofit projects – the Qattan Foundation and the sports charity PACES - and he admits that their work was hugely inspiring. “ The first – and only – time I went to Palestine, I was 14,” he explains. “My dad took me when his charity was starting up and it was just incredible. I think it was great for a kid to see that kind of stuff, and it really drove my passion.” —
The MENA region’s 20 million-strong diaspora has much more to contribute than just remittances, writes Mariem Mezghenni Malouche. If given the opportunity, overseas professionals can provide a significant boost to trade, investment and business opportunities back home
Mobilising the masses
S THE GLOBAL IMMIGRATION
debate rages, the many benefits that diaspora populations bring to their host and home countries risks being downplayed. The governments of most countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with large numbers of citizens scattered abroad – Palestine, Morocco, Iraq, Egypt, and Algeria, among them – do little to reap the economic benefits of the bonds of kinship. The MENA region is one of the leastintegrated regions in the world. It grapples with lacklustre private investment and entrepreneurship, and high employment – including among young graduates. It also has very low intraregional trade and
Diaspora ties can make global business deals easier
attracts less foreign direct investment than other regions. Yet, with a diaspora equal to at least 5 per cent of its total population – some 20 million people – it also has a much higher proportion of its citizens living overseas than the world average. These emigrants and their descendants sent about $53bn in remittances home to their countries of origin in 2014, their value in Lebanon and Jordan making up about 15 per cent of GDP in each country. This is well in excess of what those countries spend on education, healthcare and defense combined. If just 1 per cent of this diaspora were mobilised, it would represent a
200,000-strong pool of professionals with skills and expertise to share, broadening t hei r role b eyond t h at of send i ng remittances back home. In most MENA states, the diaspora both innovates the most, and registers most of the technical a nd sc ient i fic patent s u nder t hei r respective countries. If engaged, these people have the potential to play a much greater part in development, through the enhancement of trade, investment and business opportunities, and by easing access to foreign markets. In India, the IT industry – which now employs some 3.5 million people and represents a large share of India’s exports – has relied greatly on the two-way flow of
talent, money, ideas and contacts between Bangalore and the Indian diaspora in Silicon Valley and other technology corridors in the US. There are also some examples of this dynamic in the MENA region. A recent large investment by Canadian aircraft manufacturers Bombardier, to produce aircraft parts in Morocco, likely followed an earlier investment made by Boeing in 2001. That earlier deal owed much to contacts established by an expatriate Moroccan at Boeing, leading to the contract, itself negotiated by the Moroccan government. Today, the sector employs more than 10,000 Moroccans who earn 15 per cent above the country’s average monthly wage. Strong personal ties can make global business easier – yet few MENA countries have policies in place to support and promote the broad role diasporas can play. This is a missed opportunity. In our survey of members of the MENA diaspora, 85 per cent of respondents said giving back to their country of origin is important to them. More than two-thirds said they were willing to invest capital and trade in their home countries. The single most important factor in their interest was the sentiment of belonging. And the one reform that would most increase their involvement was for their respective governments to make them feel relevant, like active partners and actors capable of contributing in a broader variety of ways to the development of the local economy. The Philippines provides an example of good practice. With about 10 million of its citizens living and working abroad, its diaspora is equal to about 10 per cent of its population, and it taps this potential by recognising the positive role it can play. The Philippines manages its relations with its diaspora at cabinet level, allowing its citizens abroad dual citizenship and overseas voting. It acknowledges what the diaspora brings to its society as a whole but also what it needs to receive. Most importantly for its migrants themselves are the benefits they receive, such as global legal assistance, the portability of their pensions, and help to one day return home and reintegrate. At the moment, members of the MENA diaspora cite “mentoring” and “ joint collaboration” as their most common forms of involvement with people back
“If properly engaged, the diaspora has the potential to play a much greater part in development” home. Many are prepared to invest money. In MENA, even amounts of up to $10,000 can give entrepreneurs a start. Unemploy ment i n ma ny M ENA nations is high, particularly among young college graduates and women. These are groups of people who MENA citizens living abroad should find it easy to identify with – in part because the majority of MENA citizens working in the diaspora are young professionals themselves. If just 1 per cent of MENA’s diaspora is engaged more fully in the development of their countries of origin, it could prove to be a powerful engine of change. The actions of a few could make all the difference. —
ABOUT THE WRITER
Mariem Mezghenni Malouche is a senior economist at the World Bank Group. She is co-author of the recent report Mobilising the Middle East and North Africa Diaspora for Economic Integration and Entrepreneurship.
MAK ING A DIFFERENCE
Make money, do good Can capitalism succeed where development fails? Absolutely, says Ahmad Ashkar, founder and CEO of the Hult Prize, a $1m competition that challenges young people to develop companies able to solve critical global issues
Ending poverty means rethinking income generation, says Ashkar
THE HUMANITARIAN INDUSTRY EXCELS at
relief and disaster work. I don’t know any businesses that can deploy food at $0.50 a meal, per day, per refugee. But a crisis needs long-term solutions. To use a medical analogy, a paramedic stabilises a patient in an emergency, but doesn’t take the place of a hospital. The aid industry isn’t designed for sustainable solutions. There’s a vacuum, and business and entrepreneurial capital have a role to play in filling it.
THE IDEA BEHIND THE earliest version of
social enterprise was this: if you want to solve humanity’s challenges, you need to do it through business. I see it differently. I think the future of business lies in solving social issues around the world, and companies that fail to integrate those two issues will lose out. If you want to create a billion-dollar company, find a trillion-dollar problem to fix, because the businesses of tomorrow
will be built on both humanitarianism and capitalism. I HAD THE IDEA for the Hult Prize in 2009.
I’d signed up for an MBA in the fallout from the financial crisis, and I was a few weeks in when I stumbled across a lecture on social business: the idea of servicing the poor through for-good companies. My ‘a-ha’ moment came when I realised: ‘why stop at sustainability? What if helping the
poor can actually be profitable?’ I began wondering how I could create a platform to bring bankers, hedge-fund managers, engineers – capitalists, basically – into the giving space. That was the idea behind what eventually became the Hult Prize: how can we inspire a generation to change the world through business? WE BEGAN AS A consulting business that leveraged this way of thinking: solving tough social challenges by for-profit enterprise. But within a year I had a call from Bertil Hult, the billionaire and benefactor, asking me to fly to Switzerland and talk him through my vision. Three days later, I left with a cheque in my pocket and a deal to rebrand the company. Today, the Hult Prize is on campuses in more than 90 countries, with Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine among our biggest programmes. THE MIDDLE EAST IS just starting to think
beyond charity. There are moves towards making awqaf [Islamic endowments] sustainable, or using zakat to support impact investment. The lines are blurring between charity and business, and I encourage that, because it takes us a step closer to a future where doing good and doing well are one and the same. YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IS A critical issue.
Arab economies have a shortage of 80 million jobs, and the consequences of not taking action today will be disastrous for the region’s future. Half of jobs are created by small businesses, but just throwing money at the situation won’t create a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. Three things are needed for it to grow, and the first is policy innovation – that means creating a risk-free environment for startups, including a way to manage failing companies. The second element is pipeline: we don’t have enough viable companies in the region. Without that, you can’t generate the third element, which is success stories. You can create all the startup accelerators that you want, but if youth aren’t inspired to become entrepreneurs then you won’t fill them. After inspiration comes funding and scale, but success stories are what keep the wheel turning.
“If you want to create a billion-dollar company, find a trillion-dollar problem to fix”
and industrial revolutions in history. We were leaders, innovators, astrophysicists and inventors. So think big. My second piece of advice, is don’t be afraid to be the second hire. Number twos build companies, and are just as important. You don’t have to be a founder. I BELIEVE WE ARE on the brink of a shift
in global influence. In the coming years we’ ll see trillions of dollars passing to millennials from their parents and grandparents. Studies show that seven out of 10 millennials favour brands and companies that have social impact so, for the first time, we’ll have people who value more than just the bottom line making investment decisions. As they take on leadership roles, millennials will also be controlling how money is spent within the supply chain and how businesses are built. In this model, there will be no divide between profit and social cause. The more capitalist you are, the more good you are doing.
A FEW YEARS AGO, I was in Mumbai, and
I had a revelation: we can’t break poverty by giving the poor access to clean water and energy. With that approach, they’re still poor. We need to focus on income generation. We need to think bigger and bolder than social enterprise, and look at businesses that will reshape the way people behave and live. Because of this, the Hult Prize is evolving. From this year, it will become the UN Hult Prize, and our challenges will be co-issued by the United Nations each year. We’ll be fully aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, and our focus will be changing. The Hult Prize has led a generation to think about how to create businesses that serve humanity. The next decade will be spent on building the world’s largest pipeline of transformational businesses. I want to help persuade young people that business can not only be used for capital and social good, but to solve important geopolitical issues. I’m excited to take this forward. — “The lines are blurring between charity and business”
MY ADVICE TO ARAB youth is to never be
afraid to dream big. This region was the centre for some of the greatest innovations
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No one deserves to die at sea. That’s the belief of search and rescue nonprofit MOAS, which, since 2014, has saved the lives of more than 40,000 people along the world’s deadliest maritime routes. Its aim is not only to protect lives at sea, but also to see the creation of legal routes for all those seeking safety. Your support is critical in making this a reality.
Wars rarely end with peace treaties: their scars can last for decades. Legacy of War is a five-year, global project by the photographer Giles Duley, which explores the long-term effects of conflict, told through the stories of those living in its aftermath. Its aim is to trace the consequences of war – and to change the way we speak of conflict.
From its 13 founders, Médecins Sans Frontières has grown into a 36,000-strong army of staff on the frontline of emergency medical aid. From Yemen, to Nigeria, to South Sudan, this Nobel Peace Prizewinning NGO is not only a first responder, but often the only source of healthcare in some of the world’s toughest regions: a lifeline in every sense of the word.
The Norwegian Refugee Council was founded in 1956 to help those fleeing war. The agency has been helping those escaping disaster, poverty and conflict ever since. Today the NRC works in new and protracted crises across 30 countries, aiding 6.8 million people in 2016. This year, with your help, it can reach even more.
Jusoor believes Syria’s youth is its hope. Founded in 2011, the nonprofit has so far raised more than $5.6m to provide vital education and career opportunities for young Syrians both in and outside the country. With your support, it hopes to fuel a new generation of entrepreneurs and leaders, able to rebuild their shattered country.
Dubbed the ‘Nobel Prize for Students’, the Hult Prize is a global accelerator that challenges students to develop sustainable, scalable social enterprises to solve the world’s gravest problems. In nearly a decade it has deployed more than $50m of capital, and encouraged more than 1 million young people to rethink the role of business as a force for good.
Mass migrations are years in the making. Despite most often being framed in the context of aid appeals and headlines, they are a slow-burn emergency, born of conflict, crises and changing climates. Across West and Central Africa, more than 12 million people are on the move because of violence, poverty and climate change. More than half are children, of which almost all will seek refuge in other African nations. Just one in five will make the perilous journey to Europe. The UN has received only a quarter of the $23.5bn needed for humanitarian aid programmes worldwide this year, a sign of the widening gap between needs and funding. While emergency relief is vital, more must be done to solve the root causes of migration, and not just its symptoms. Investing in Africa to disrupt the cycle of conflict, drought, loss and death would translate into lives saved â€“ and a new model for future economic growth. Nichole Sobecki / Getty Images
Water.org empowers women to get safe water by helping them access small, affordable loans to install water connections and toilets. We believe empowering women is critical because though they arenâ€™t trying to change the world, they will.
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