French company raises awareness and funds for UNHCR projects

News Stories, 25 June 2004

© UNHCR/E.Rouffi
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Julien Clerc receiving the 120,000-euros cheque from Schneider Electric's Henri Lachmann.

PARIS, June 25 (UNHCR) A French company has donated 120,000 euros to the UN refugee agency's water and education projects in Africa, proof that the corporate world has an important role to play in sustainable growth and human development.

The donation was made at the end of a debate-conference on Tuesday to coincide with World Refugee Day and Sustainable Development Week in France. Organised by Schneider Electric, the event featured the company's President Director-General Henri Lachmann, Veolia Environment Director-General Denis Gasquet, and France Telecom President Thierry Breton.

Receiving the cheque from Lachmann, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Julien Clerc thanked the company for its continued support. 55,000 euros of the money will go to a water project in Ethiopia and 65,000 euros to refugee education and training programmes in Cameroon.

"This donation certainly has a very great financial value. But its impact does not stop there," said Clerc. "With partners such as Schneider Electric, we are proud to help with better management of water in this arid area. The beneficial effects will be felt in the very long term for the entire population."

Education is also a top priority in situations of displacement, said the Goodwill Ambassador. "Education is their only chance to have a better life and it is also a very important tool to protect the children against exploitation. Lastly, education brings to poor countries essential competencies to rebuild and develop."

On the school project to rehabilitate public schools for 5,000 refugee and local children in Cameroon, Clerc said, "It is a true contribution to peace and sustainable development because both the refugee and local populations profit from this assistance."

The conference-debate was broadcast in Schneider Electric's 50 offices around the world. Staff members have received information on refugee issues, and are encouraged to donate to the UN refugee agency.

Other World Refugee Day events in France included an awareness campaign in schools and the display of 800 UNHCR posters through the whole Parisian subway network during the week of June 16-23.