New Delhi: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes Sony Corporation’s announcement of establishing “Sony Global Relief Fund for COVID-19”, through which a US$3 million contribution will be made to help protect refugees from the threat of this pandemic. This is the first major private sector contribution to UNHCR’s COVID-19 appeal. Timely and unearmarked funds are critical for helping UNHCR field operations to prepare and respond to COVID-19 pandemic and prevent the spread among refugees and their host communities.
“We are calling for strong involvement of the private sector in this humanitarian response, to use their skills, knowledge and resources to help protect the most vulnerable people of society, including refugees and others forced to flee, from the threat of COVID-19. We are grateful to Sony for stepping up to the challenge and helping UNHCR to support refugees and their host communities. This funding will allow us to further support national responses in countries with some of the world’s weakest health systems, and help reinforce our calls for solidarity and inclusion of refugees into national public health responses,” said Kelly T. Clements, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees.
Through the US$100 million “Sony Global Relief Fund for COVID-19”, Sony will provide support in three areas: assistance for individuals and organizations engaged in frontline medical and first responder efforts such as UNHCR, support for children and educators who must now work remotely, and support for members of the creative community in the entertainment industry, which has been greatly impacted by the spread of the virus.
At the launch of this fund, Kenichiro Yoshida, President and CEO, Sony Corporation, said, “In order to overcome the unprecedented challenges that as a society we now face around the world, we will do all we can as a global company to support the individuals on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19, the children who are our future, and those who have been impacted in the creative community.”
On 26 March 2020, UNHCR appealed for US$255 million as part of the wider UN appeal, to focus on priority countries that will require specific action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the number of reported and confirmed cases of COVID-19 among refugees remains low, over 80 per cent of the world’s refugee population and nearly all the internally displaced people live in low- and middle-income countries, many of which have weaker health, water and sanitation systems. UNHCR continues to expand critical interventions on the ground. But to do this, timely and flexible financial support is urgently needed.
Since 2007, Sony Corporation has been supporting UNHCR’s work with people forced to flee their homes because of war and persecution. In partnership with Japan for UNHCR, Sony Corporation has contributed in-kind donations of audio-visual equipment in Africa and undertaken awareness-raising activities such as sponsoring the UNHCR Refugee Film Festival from 2007 to 2019 and employee engagement activities with charity marathons.