Hire refugees, Mediterranean business leaders say

BARCELONA, Spain :Business leaders attending a Mediterranean economic conference in Barcelona Wednesday called on the private sector to employ refugees to support their economic integration.

Livio Lo Monaco, CEO of Granada-based Lo Monaco Group underlined the importance of helping refugees become self-sufficient at the 10th Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders.

"If refugees achieve self-sufficiency with private sector's help, politicians can see that refugees can contribute to our economies," Lo Monaco said at a special session on "the private sector commitment to the current refugee crisis".

There are currently more refugees and forcibly displaced individuals across the Mediterranean than at any time in recorded history due to conflicts in Syria, Libya and Iraq.

According to Miguel Pajares, Representative of the Catalan Commission for Refugee Aid, refugees enrich a society.

"The arrival of immigrants or refugees create innovation in society.

"It creates a dynamic environment, cultural wealth and richness. In Spain, we have clear proof that immigration consolidates economic growth, he said.

Alaa Ezz, Secretary General of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers said the social and economic integration of refugees was easier than making them an economic burden, adding the private sector should see refugees as an opportunity rather than a problem.

Oisin Walton, Instant Network Programme Manager of Vodafone Foundation in Barcelona, noted a shift in the way private sector responded to crises.

"Traditionally, we used to donate money to charities. Now we are combining money with technology. We are trying to support connectivity, employment, and education of refugees," he said.

"In Greece, we supplied the United Nations with some technological instruments such as free wi-fi. So they [refugees] were able to have free calls and do some things online such as buy tickets, he added.

Andreu Carreras, manager at Barcelona-based software developer Basetic said that private sector had a big responsibility in terms of building refugees' self-reliance and their local economic integration.

"We hired two people who escaped the war in Syria. We are very happy with them.

"Hiring a refugee is a vital contribution to society for me," he said.

The three-day leaders' forum is co-organized by ASCAME, the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the UfM in collaboration with the European Institute of the Mediterranean and other prominent regional and international organizations.

Anadolu Agency is the event's Global Communication Partner. This is the second time the agency is participating in the event.

Source: Anadolu Agency