Google launched a donation-matching campaign this week to raise money for the aid agencies, charities and other humanitarian organisations helping the hundreds of thousands of refugees in Europe, who have escaped from war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan.
The multi-billion dollar tech company will match the first 5 million Euros (around £3.6 million) in donations made to its refugee crisis landing page. The funds will be split between nonprofit organisations Médecins Sans Frontières (also known as Doctors Without Borders), Save the Children, International Rescue Committee and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
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The announcement was made on the official Google blog in a post written by Rita Masoud, the Product Marketing Manager for Google.org.
“My name is Rita Masoud and I am a refugee,” she said. “I was born in war-torn Kabul, Afghanistan. When I was seven, my family and I fled to Europe with our belongings in a single suitcase, hoping for a safer and better future. Our journey involved many dark train and bus rides, as well as hunger, thirst, cold and fear. Fortunately, we received asylum in The Netherlands, where I grew up in a safe environment and was able to find my way in life. Today, I work for Google in California.”
Google’s donation-matching announcement comes less than a week after it donated $1.1 million (over £700,000) to organisations providing essential shelter, food, water and health care to refugees.
There were 19.5 million refugees by the end of 2014 (up from 16.7 million in the previous year), said a June report from UNHCR. Half of them were children. Over 4 million Syrian refugees are displaced internationally and another 7.6 million people are internally displaced within Syria itself. Refugees from many other countries, such as Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran, have also fled war and persecution.
Google joins other companies stepping up to the mark during the current refugee crisis. Uber launched UberGIVING on Sept. 9, partnering with Save the Children UK to collect donations for refugee children at no charge. Financial giant Goldman Sachs has partnered with UNCHR to donate £2 million to aid refugees stranded in Europe and J.P. Morgan Chase has pledged to donate up to $2 million (£1.46 million) through its employees and foundation.
This week the Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, called on U.K. businesses of all sizes to “play their role” in the country’s response to the refugee crisis.
“Alongside the amazing generosity of individuals, I’ve always felt that businesses can also play their role as part of this country’s response to humanitarian crises,” said Greening.
She also praised the efforts of the British public so far, saying: “We’ve given more than £1bn, which makes us the largest donor after the United States. I’ve seen for myself the food rations from Britain that ensure many people don’t go hungry; the classrooms Britain is helping to build and staff with teachers; the medical help and trauma counselling, and so much other work in the region. All of these lifelines simply wouldn’t be there without the British people, without our NGOs, our humanitarian workers, our government, our companies. It’s an amazing team effort that’s having an huge impact and it shows what an incredible country we’re living in.”
Anyone who visits google.com/refugeerelief can donate in increments of $5, $10, $25, $100 or $200.