Refugees walking to Germany Paul Hackett/ZumaPress

The Business Case for Europe’s Refugees

While governments, charities, and donor organizations debate how European countries will share responsibility for the refugees flooding across their borders, European business has been strangely silent. But industry leaders in all sectors owe it to themselves to be involved from the start in managing the influx.

LONDON – In the face of the largest influx of refugees into Europe in decades, the responses and policy proposals from the European Union and its member governments have varied enormously, and the debate has become deeply politicized. International organizations and non-governmental agencies such as the UNHCR and the International Rescue Committee, and religious leaders such as Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, have weighed in as well. But one group’s voice has been conspicuous by its absence: business.

While governments, charities, and donor organizations actively discuss how to share responsibility for refugees on all steps of their journey – from camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey to transit to settlement – European business has been strangely silent. But, at a time when business is more powerful than ever, with multinational corporations stretching around the world, the private sector must work with governments and NGOs to help address the short-term and long-term challenges posed by the massive refugee inflows.

Indeed, industry leaders in all sectors owe it to themselves to be involved from the start. Only by turning the challenges into opportunities can social, political, and economic risks be mitigated.

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