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UNHCR names wealthy Indonesian philanthropist as Eminent Advocate

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UNHCR names wealthy Indonesian philanthropist as Eminent Advocate

18 November 2016

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today appointed prominent Indonesian businessman and philanthropist, Dato’ Sri Prof. Dr Tahir, as its third Eminent Advocate in recognition of his valuable and selfless work on behalf of millions of refugees.

At a special ceremony in Abu Dhabi, Dr Tahir said he was delighted and honoured to be named as UNHCR’s first Eminent Advocate from Asia, before announcing that he and his family were donating US$10 million to support the education of refugee children around the world. This was in addition to the US$2 million that he donated earlier this year to UNHCR’s Nobody Left Outside campaign to provide shelter for 2 million refugees by 2018. 

After visiting Syrian refugees recently in Jordan, which hosts more than 650,000, Dr Tahir donated another US$1 million to UNHCR’s cash assistance programme for Syrian refugees in the country and funded the cost of 10,000 jackets to protect them in the coming winter. 

“To give is to gain; and it is my belief, as it is in all religions, that we do not own our wealth – we only manage it, and it is up to us to be good managers,” Dr Tahir, one of Indonesia’s wealthiest and most generous businessmen, said in a statement. 

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi thanked Dr Tahir for his generosity. “I am very pleased to welcome Dato Sri Tahir as an Eminent Advocate for UNHCR,” he said, hailing “his real commitment to ensure the well-being of refugees around the world.” Grandi handed over a certificate at the ceremony to mark the Indonesian’s appointment.

Dr Tahir is the founder and chairman of Indonesia’s Mayapada Group and the Tahir Foundation. He has gained a name for helping humanitarian causes with vital funding and through his commitment to raise public awareness about global refugee issues and engaging other business leaders to support refugees. 

In Asia, no other individual has donated so much to UNHCR. As a key donor to the Nobody Left Outside, he has been named a Champion of the campaign’s Global Shelter Coalition. This calls on private sector leaders to work with UNHCR to provide and improve shelter solutions for refugees around the world.

Eminent Advocate is one of UNHCR’s most prestigious honorary titles. It is given to influential and valued supporters. The two other Eminent Advocates are Hamdi Ulukaya of the United States and Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qassimi of Sharjah. 

Forced displacement has risen sharply in the past decade, largely a result of the Syria crisis, but also due to a proliferation of new conflicts and unresolved old ones. Without a major increase in funding, millions of people face life without adequate and safe shelter.

The private sector is an increasingly important donor source for UNHCR, contributing more than eight per cent of the organization’s funding in 2015. Individuals and companies in the private sector are increasingly prominent and visible partners, bringing funding, technical expertise, creativity, and innovation, and are often well-positioned to drive policy change and influence public opinion.


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Photos from the ceremony will be available later at Refugees Media  (

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