UNHCR Business Council mission to East Africa, Great Lakes

Briefing Notes, 10 March 2006

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 10 March 2006, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Deputy High Commissioner Wendy Chamberlin will be going to East Africa and the Great Lakes next week with a delegation of top executives from five of the world's leading corporations.

Senior executives from Manpower, Nike, Merck, Microsoft and Pricewaterhouse Coopers will travel with Chamberlin on a five-day mission visiting refugee camps and UNHCR projects in Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi.

The five corporations are part of UNHCR's Council of Business Leaders, set up last year in Davos to build additional bridges between the corporate and the humanitarian communities. The role of the council is to advise UNHCR on the best strategies to capitalise on existing joint projects and to develop new and innovative public-private partnerships. The council also aims to raise awareness of refugee issues in the business world.

The aim of next week's mission is to give business leaders an opportunity to learn more about UNHCR's work in East Africa and the Great Lakes, as well as to see for themselves the impact of their involvement on the daily life of refugees. As well as visiting refugee camps in Kenya and Tanzania, the delegation will follow a convoy bringing refugees from Tanzania back home to Burundi.

There are more than 240,000 refugees in Kenya, the majority from Somalia and Sudan. Tanzania is home to more than 400,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. In Burundi itself, UNHCR is running reintegration projects for some 300,000 people who have returned from exile most of them from Tanzania since 2002.