It’s a daunting statistic – 67 million people around the world displaced from their homes by conflict and crisis. And there don’t seem to be simple solutions.
But David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, is convinced that people aren’t indifferent to the global refugee crisis. Instead, they just don’t know what can be done.
“My biggest job is to say the refugee crisis is manageable and not insoluble,” he told employees at Levi Strauss & Co. in a presentation last week. “And that we, each of us, have a role in making sure that that crisis is managed.”
As governments, including the United States, retreat from taking responsibility for the problem, it falls to the rest of us – individuals, companies and nonprofits – to pick up the slack, David said.
He outlined concrete ways to help:
- Use your voice – as a company, and also as individuals – to stand up for refugees.
- Volunteer your time to help refugees in your community adjust to their new lives.
- Companies can explore how to make jobs available to refugees.
LS&Co. has been involved in refugee issues for several years, inspired by the empathy and activism of our own employees. In Europe, employees have given more than 700 hours of volunteer service to organizations helping refugees rebuild their lives. The company has partnered with the IRC since 2016, providing more than $120,000 in grants to support refugees in Serbia and Bulgaria – and now an additional $100,000 grant from the Levi Strauss Foundation’s $1 million fund supporting organizations that protect the civil liberties of vulnerable communities across the United States and abroad, including immigrants, refugees, the transgender community and religious minorities.
“I do think that international rescue committee tells us that our work is about rescuing others, but the core thing I’ve learned over the last four years, is that actually we’re rescuing some of the most important values, norms, practices, principles that help make countries like this really great,” David concluded. “Those are values and principles that we have to defend. And now is the time to do that.”