According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, wars, conflict and persecution have forced an unprecedented 65.3 million people to flee their homes. This staggering number represents approximately one out of every 113 people on earth.
Western Union and the Western Union Foundation have a long history of supporting organizations and issues related to migration, refugees and humanitarian crisis. That’s why, on July 1, 2016, when President Barack Obama challenged the U.S. private sector to support refugees, Western Union once again stepped up to help those in need – as a founding member of the White House call-to-action for private sector engagement on the global refugee crisis.
Western Union’s White House Call-to-Action program includes looking at ways to expand access to education for refugee children and young adults, leveraging Western Union’s products and services to implement refugee crisis response initiatives, and proactively striving to make job opportunities available to refugees via traditional employment and shorter-term assignments, such as internships and freelance opportunities. The Western Union Foundation has also enthusiastically joined the efforts to continue supporting this global crisis.
As the first step in this multi-year effort, the Western Union Foundation has pledged a three-year grant to the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI). The funding will help provide access to education for refugees in Uganda, which hosts the eighth-largest refugee population in the world, third-largest in Africa.
WPDI's successful approach to training refugees focuses on peace education, conflict resolution, life skills, vocational training and entrepreneurship. This will serve as a blueprint to implement a new program in a camp in Kiryandongo, Uganda where the UNHCR reports that approximately 70,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan reside, 85% of whom are under 18. In this way, we can start the process of hope and opportunity for the millions of displaced young people across the globe.
“After meeting Hikmet [Western Union’s CEO] at the United Nations World Humanitarian Summit this year, it became clear that partnering with the Western Union Foundation was a natural fit and alignment with our passion and purpose for strengthening communities,” said WPDI Founder and CEO, Forest Whitaker. “Connecting to people, empowering them with the tools they need to succeed, and teaching them to give back to others is a very powerful thing.”
1 UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, Figures at a Glance, UNHCR June 20, 2016. Accessed on September 7, 2016 at http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html.
 UNHCR, June 2016