Citi’s $2m grant to men­tor young refugees

Part­ner­ship un­veiled by David Miliband at bank’s Wharf head­quar­ters

The Wharf - - Front Page - Laura En­field

D avid Miliband said he wanted to “counter the fear the refugee cri­sis is in­sol­u­ble” as he vis­ited Ca­nary Wharf to launch a $2mil­lion (£1.5mil­lion) fund to trans­form young dis­placed peo­ple into en­trepreneurs. The former politi­cian turned NGO boss was at the Citi of­fices in Canada Square to an­nounce a part­ner­ship with the bank­ing group’s char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion. Res­cu­ing Fu­tures will of­fer ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing to young refugees aged 16-24 in Athens in Greece, Am­man in Jor­dan and Yola in north­east Nige­ria. Those who grad­u­ate from the pro­gram will be able to ap­ply for grants to start their own busi­nesses. David, who is pres­i­dent and CEO of the In­ter­na­tional Res­cue Com­mit­tee, said: “It’s very sig­nif­i­cant for the hu­man­i­tar­ian sec­tor to move from just keep­ing peo­ple alive to help­ing them thrive. “The greatest in­te­grat­ing force for any refugee is to find work and the fastest way to re­duce ten­sions with host pop­u­la­tions is for them to be con­trib­u­tors to the lo­cal econ­omy.”

The Citi Foun­da­tion is pro­vid­ing the fund­ing as part of its wider Path­ways To Progress, which this year pledged $100mil­lion to help reach 500,000 young peo­ple with train­ing by 2020. CEO of Citi Europe Mid­dle East and Africa (EMEA) Jim Cowles said the part­ner­ship will met with com­mu­nity lead­ers in the three ar­eas to find out what the eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties are. They will then of­fer tai­lored train­ing to refugees who dis­play “drive, cre­ativ­ity and en­trepreneuri­al­ism” with vol­un­teers from Citi act­ing as men­tors. Res­cu­ing Fu­tures is aim­ing to help nearly 1,000 young peo­ple to start their own busi­nesses over two years.

Jim said: “As we look around the world we have tens of mil­lions of peo­ple who are refugees or dis­placed peo­ple and in­creas­ingly they are end­ing up in ur­ban cen­tres. At the same time one of the big­gest is­sues is youth un­em­ploy­ment, which tears at the so­cial fab­ric of any com­mu­nity. So this pro­gram is very ex­cit­ing as it is try­ing to ad­dress those is­sues.”

Young peo­ple dis­placed within their own coun­tries and vul­ner­a­ble youth from the com­mu­ni­ties host­ing them will also be el­i­gi­ble to join the scheme.

David re­fused to be drawn on a re­turn to pol­i­tics and the former Foreign Sec­re­tary re­tained his diplo­macy when asked if work­ing for an NGO was more sat­is­fy­ing than for the Gov­ern­ment.

He crit­i­cised the slow pace of the asy­lum process in the UK and said it was “de­plorable” the Gov­ern­ment aban­doned its com­mit­ment to al­low 3,000 refugee mi­nors into the UK.

He ac­knowl­edged the “global back­lash against dis­placed peo­ple” but added: “For ev­ery per­son who was afraid there was some­one else stand­ing up to say they don’t want vic­tims of war to be vic­timised twice.

“There is a real onus on Europe at the mo­ment. If you take se­ri­ously the EU view that there are a mil­lion refugees that are most vul­ner­a­ble, then Europe should be tak­ing 108,000 a year not 40,000-50,000.”

The IRC was founded by Al­bert Ein­stein in 1933 and works to help in­te­grate refugees into cities across the globe. David said it was “in­creas­ingly an in­ter­na­tional aid or­gan­i­sa­tion” with 13,000 em­ploy­ees and 10,000 vol­un­teers. He said it was im­por­tant to mod­ernise the hu­man­i­tar­ian aid sys­tem to deal with the prob­lems of to­day.

“The av­er­age dis­place­ment of a refugee is 10 years and after they have been a refugee for five years that goes up to 24 years. So we are talk­ing multi-gen­er­a­tional move­ment of peo­ple.”

The av­er­age dis­place­ment of a refugee is 10 years. After five years that goes up to 24 IRC pres­i­dent and CEO David Miliband

David came to Citi’s Ca­nary Wharf head­quar­ters on Tues­day to an­nounce the part­ner­ship be­tween the IRC and the bark

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