UNHCR and private business sector brainstorm over refugee solutions

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Archive picture of Colombians who in 2012 fled from the violence in their own country into Panama’s Darien province. UNHCR photo.

Private sector proposes solutions for refugees in Panama

by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees

Recognized companies and private sector groups in Panama participated on Tuesday, November 9, in the launch of the Business Roundtable on Refugees, a pilot program initiated by the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and the multinational company ManpowerGroup, to involve the private sector in the local integration of people forced to flee to their countries.

During a work session at the Museum of Contemporary Art, representatives of private companies and two groups that host more than 500 companies in Panama developed proposals to promote the economic and social inclusion of refugees.

Among the salient proposals:

• the creation of corporate social responsibility programs and social interest companies to facilitate the labor inclusion of refugees;
• participation in committees of business groups in advocacy with decision makers;
• the identification of training areas for refugees and the strengthening of skills and knowledge; and
• the inclusion of small and medium enterprises run by refugees as part of the private sector value chain.

The Roundtable, which will be consolidated in 2022, seeks to promote inclusion and sustainability strategies that take refugees into account as part of the country’s development initiatives, particularly in the current context of the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Panama is home to 15,500 refugees and applicants for refugee status, mainly from Latin American countries such as Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, including people of productive age who yearn to contribute to the country’s economy.

In 2018 UNHCR and ManpowerGroup began a collaborative relationship in Panama that has allowed the creation, together with HIAS Panama, of an employability program for refugees and young Panamanians, Talento Sin Fronteras, as well as various advocacy spaces in Panama.



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