George Soros to invest $500M to assist refugees

NEW YORK, Sept. 20 (UPI) — Billionaire investor George Soros has pledged up to $500 million in investments to assist refugees and migrants worldwide.

The 85-year-old owner of Soros Fund Management said Tuesday the investments will be owned by his nonprofit organizations and the profits will go to his Open Society Foundations, a network of causes supporting issues that include education, human rights, migration and health.

“We will invest in startups, established companies, social impact initiatives, and businesses started by migrants and refugees themselves,” Soros said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed article published online Tuesday. “Although my main concern is to help migrants and refugees arriving in Europe, I will be looking for good investment ideas that will benefit migrants all over the world.”

The announcement came during an ongoing United Nations summit in New York on the crisis.

Before President Barack Obama‘s address to the U.N. on Tuesday, the White House announced 51 corporations, including Facebook, Twitter, MasterCard, Johnson Johnson, have committed $650 million to help refugees.

Soros said the investments in the companies “are intended to be successful — because I want to show how private capital can play a constructive role helping migrants — and any profits will go to fund programs at the Open Society Foundations, including programs that benefit migrants and refugees.”

Soros said he will work with organizations that include the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Rescue Committee to establish investment principles.

“Our collective failure to develop and implement effective policies to handle the increased flow has contributed greatly to human misery and political instability — both in countries people are fleeing and in the countries that host them, willingly or not,” Soros wrote. “Migrants are often forced into lives of idle despair, while host countries fail to reap the proven benefit that greater integration could bring.”

Soros noted governments should play a key role but also said the “power of the private sector” is critical.

“I hope my commitment will inspire other investors to pursue the same mission,” he said.

In its announcement, the White House said, the companies “are standing with the administration to demonstrate that private sector innovation and resources can have a durable impact on refugees residing in countries on the frontlines of the global refugee crisis and in countries of resettlement, like the United States.”

The White House noted the companies have pledged employment opportunities for more than 220,000 refugees, through mentorship, training, internships and job placements. Also, they have pledged education opportunities for more than 80,000 refugees.

The United Nations Relief Agency calculated that a record 65.3 million people were forcibly displaced in 2015 compared with 59.5 million the previous year and more than half from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.

More than 300,000 refugees and migrants crossed the dangerous Mediterranean sea to Europe so far this year, according to figures released by U.N. agency on Tuesday.

“Refugees need access to financial and legal services, education, and employment opportunities; we believe the private sector is uniquely placed to help build the infrastructure needed to support these services,” the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said about Soros’ investment.

Soros’ net worth is $24.9 billion, according to Forbes.

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