11 Dec 2015
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi urged companies on Thursday to do more to help children in war-torn Syria, saying improving their lives would also reduce the number of families fleeing for Europe.
His call followed energy giant Enel’s announcement that it was pledging €500,000 ($550,000) for the UN refugee agency’s “Educate a Child” project, in a bid to tackle one of the main factors driving families to leave – the challenges in getting children schooled.
“Money for aid is never money thrown away… if all of the world’s companies did this think what a difference it would make,” Renzi said, calling for the private sector to help restore bombed classrooms or pay for teacher training.
The funds, pledged in response to UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s appeal for businesses worldwide to do more to ease the refugee situation, will go to helping 20,000 children complete their primary school education in Syria.
The UNHCR hopes – with other contributions – to reach a total of €200,000 children by the end of 2018.
The agency’s spokeswoman Carlotta Sami said the programme cost around €22 a year per child.
Enel, which has been investing heavily in its green credentials and social responsibility projects since CEO Francesco Starace took over at the helm last year, posted a 2014 net profit of €517 million.