Greek CSR network backs UNHCR

The Greek bureau of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is launching a campaign in cooperation with the Greek CSR network – a non-profit making organization with more than 60 prominent firms – mainly targeted at tapping the potential for providing sports facilities to refugees within the framework of the Olympic Games in August. UNHCR’s public-sector fund-raising (PSFR) consultant Angeliki Vergitsi told a presentation in Athens on Thursday that the endeavor will include a program for collecting sports apparel from athletes at the Olympic Village, fund raising for sports installations in two refugee camps in Serbia and Ethiopia (100,000 euros each) and an information campaign in Athens. The campaign will include appeals to sports-related firms to assist in the creation of sports facilities in the camps. S. Stamatiou, human resources manager of Shell Hellas – a Greek CSR network member – said his firm has hired as blue-collar workers six refugees in Greece through a program in collaboration with UNHCR which was launched two years ago. The six, two each from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, including two college graduates, were among 40 considered and trained and were selected on merit; Shell did not feel it was providing charity in any way, Stamatiou said. He said the number may be small but considering that the refugees’ main obstacle to being gainfully employed in the host countries is language difficulties, the company considers the results a success. The program is continuing and Shell hopes to hire more refugees. Pierre Bernard le Bas, head of UNHCR’s Geneva-based PSFA Service, told the presentation his agency aims to increase the contribution by the private sector from 3 percent of its budget today to 10 percent by 2015. The United Nations organization currently provides 2 percent, while governments and the EU provide 95 percent. Firms wishing to join the Global Compact (GC) network of firms embracing CSR – a United Nations initiative – have to commit themselves to applying existing international agreements embodying the so-called nine principles that concern human rights: in particular, labor rights with respect to joining a trade union, the ban on child labor and environmental protection.