Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing has committed US$10 million in cash and some 150,000 items of Heattech clothing to help keep newly arrived refugees warm in Europe.
Fast Retailing will supply the support through the UNHCR, the UNited Nation’s refugee agency.
As well as the donations, Uniqlo will provide internships with future employment possibilities to 100 refugees in Japan and abroad.
“The refugee issue is one of the most difficult challenges the international community is facing today,” said Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and CEO of Fast Retailing.
“We must collectively tackle the constant threats that have forced so many people, including a large number of children, to flee. We have been providing refugees with emergency assistance, programs that promote self-reliance and donations of clothes for nearly 10 years. We will continue to supply refugees with the clothes they need and give them hope for better lives, in keeping with our never-ending desire for a sustainable and peaceful world,” he said.
UNHCR spokesman Antonio Guterres said nearly 60 million people have been forced to flee their homes worldwide; the equivalent to almost half the population of Japan.
“Twenty million of these people are refugees. In the face of such an unprecedented challenge, the robust support of the private sector is crucial for meeting the needs of the millions of families who have lost everything and who are seeking a safe place to restore their lives and build a better future.”
Fast Retailing started its collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency in 2006 and entered into a global partnership in 2011, a first for a company headquartered in Asia. The new support being pledged this week is part of a global partnership aimed at assisting forcibly displaced people around the world, in recognition of the need for international organisations and private enterprises to collaborate more closely for the refugee cause.
Under the new agreement, Fast Retailing commits to support the UN Refugee Agency with US $10 million over the next three years, starting from 2016. The funds will help UNHCR respond to emergencies and other acute humanitarian crises, and help refugees in Asia become self-reliant.
The donation will also cover costs related to the distribution of donated clothing. To date, Fast Retailing has collected and distributed through UNHCR more than 10 million items of lightly used clothing to refugees across 37 countries and regions.