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UNIQLO donates $1 million for Syria emergency

Press Releases, 20 September 2013

The UN refugee agency today welcomes a US$1 million donation from Japan's leading clothing retail chain, UNIQLO, to support urgent humanitarian needs in the Syria emergency.

The funds donated by UNIQLO's parent company Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. will go towards UNHCR's efforts to help more than 4 million people displaced within Syria and over 2 million Syrians who have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries since the conflict started in March 2011.

"UNIQLO's contribution shows that there is an imperative to respond to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in and around Syria not just by governments and aid agencies, but also by the corporate world," said Daniel Endres, UNHCR's Director of External Relations. "UNHCR appeals to other leading corporations to follow UNIQLO's lead. Their help could make a life-saving difference to displaced families and others in great need."

This is the largest cash contribution to the Syria emergency by a UNHCR corporate partner to date. In addition, UNIQLO has donated more than 220,000 items of clothing to displaced people and refugees in Syria and Jordan since 2011.

UNHCR has been working with the Japanese clothing firm since 2006, delivering millions of recycled clothing items to refugees in some 25 countries including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Serbia and Tajikistan. In 2011, UNIQLO donated $2 million including $1 million from Chief Executive Officer Tadashi Yanai to support the refugee and displacement emergency in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa.

The company has raised funds for refugees through initiatives like the "UT" charity T-shirt campaign. It also runs an internship programme at UNIQLO stores for refugees and others of concern to UNHCR, as well as a staff deployment programme to refugee operations.

Thirty months into the conflict in Syria, the scale of forced displacement has reached levels unparalleled in recent years. In June, UNHCR and its partners appealed to donors for US$4.4 billion for Syria relief operations this year. As part of this appeal, UNHCR has requested $1.4 billion to provide shelter, relief supplies, protection, health care and other life-saving interventions in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. To date the agency has only received 46 percent of what it needs to meet the growing humanitarian needs.

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UNHCR country pages

Jihan's Story

Like millions, 34-year-old Jihan was willing to risk everything in order to escape war-torn Syria and find safety for her family. Unlike most, she is blind.

Nine months ago, she fled Damascus with her husband, Ashraf, 35, who is also losing his sight. Together with their two sons, they made their way to Turkey, boarding a boat with 40 others and setting out on the Mediterranean Sea. They hoped the journey would take eight hours. There was no guarantee they would make it alive.

After a treacherous voyage that lasted 45 hours, the family finally arrived at a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, called Milos - miles off course. Without support or assistance, they had to find their own way to Athens.

The police detained them for four days upon their arrival. They were cautioned to stay out of Athens, as well as three other Greek cities, leaving them stranded.

By now destitute and exhausted, the family were forced to split up - with Ashraf continuing the journey northwards in search of asylum and Jihan taking their two sons to Lavrion, an informal settlement about an hour's drive from the Greek capital.

Today, Jihan can only wait to be reunited with her husband, who has since been granted asylum in Denmark. The single room she shares with her two sons, Ahmed, 5, and Mohammad, 7, is tiny, and she worries about their education. Without an urgent, highly complex corneal transplant, her left eye will close forever.

"We came here for a better life and to find people who might better understand our situation," she says, sadly. "I am so upset when I see how little they do [understand]."

Jihan's Story

The Charcoal Boys: Child Labour in Lebanon

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For Starters, a Tent: A Syrian Teacher Opens a School in Jordan

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For Starters, a Tent: A Syrian Teacher Opens a School in Jordan

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