Multinational companies pledged on Monday to hire thousands of refugees, including Ukrainians who have fled the Russian invasion, over the next three years in Europe.
More than 40 corporations say they will employ, connect to work or train a total of 250,000 refugees, with 13,680 getting jobs directly.
“Every number is a story of an individual family who left everything, seeking safety, seeking protection and wanting to be able to rebuild as quickly as possible,” said Kelly Clements, UN deputy high commissioner for refugees.
“The commitments that businesses are going to make on Monday are absolutely essential.”
Clements says 110 million people have been displaced worldwide, with an estimated 12 million from Ukraine.
Nearly half of displaced Ukrainians live in Europe in what is the region’s biggest movement of refugees since World War II.
Amazon leads the pack, vowing to hire at least 5,000 refugees over the next three years in Europe.
It is followed by hotel chains Marriott and Hilton with 1,500 each, Starbucks and ISS with 1,000, plus smaller commitments from brands like Adidas, Starbucks, L’Oreal, PepsiCo and Hyatt.
“This is good for us as a company because the opportunity to add diversity to our workforce will continue to make us a stronger company,” said Ofori Agboka, Amazon vice president overseeing human resources.
“With diversity brings innovation, creativity, different insights.”
He said the vast majority of jobs will be hourly roles at fulfilment and storage centres and in transport and delivery.
The online retail giant has been repeatedly accused of mistreating workers, who have condemned gruelling, slave-like conditions at a number of sites.
Amazon announced 27,000 job cuts earlier this year, part of a wave of layoffs in the tech world after hiring was ramped up during the COVID pandemic.
Marriott’s jobs will largely be hourly positions like housekeepers, kitchen staff and front desk attendants.
Companies are hoping refugees can fill staffing needs as economies bounce back from the pandemic. In Europe, unemployment is at its lowest since the euro was introduced in 1999.
While UN deputy Clements applauded Europe’s welcoming of Ukrainian refugees, she said protection should e offered to others fleeing conflict and crises in places like Syria, Sudan and Afghanistan.