Citi’s $2m grant to mentor young refugees
Partnership unveiled by David Miliband at bank’s Wharf headquarters
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