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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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A Face in a Million: the Struggle of Syria's Refugees in Lebanon

They are everywhere in Lebanon - 1 million Syrian refugees, in a land of 4.8 million people. There are no refugee camps in Lebanon. Instead, most rent apartments and others live in makeshift shelters and in garages, factories and prisons. Three years after the Syria crisis began, Lebanon has become the country with the highest concentration per capita of refugees in the world. It's struggling to keep pace with the influx. Rents have spiked, accommodation is scarce; food prices are rising. Meanwhile, a generation could be lost. Half of Syria's refugees are children; most don't go to school. Instead many of them work to help their families survive. Some marry early, others must beg to make a bit of money. Yet they share the same dream of getting an education.

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Award-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario visited Tin City and other areas of Lebanon with UNHCR to show the faces and suffering of Syrians to the world. Addario, in publications such as The New York Times and National Geographic, has highlighted the victims of conflict and rights abuse around the world, particularly women.

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When Ashraf was about 18 months old, his aunt, uncle and cousin were murdered - their throats slit - as the boy slept nearby in his family's home. Terrified that they were next, Ashraf's family crammed into their car, taking a few precious belongings, and drove to the border.

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