Inditex and Universidad Pontificia Comillas renew their Chair for Refugees to research better solutions for displaced people

  • The Chairman and CEO of Inditex, Pablo Isla, and the Dean of Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Julio L. Martínez, this morning signed a three-year financing agreement for the further development of the Chair for Refugees and Forced Migrants.
  • This project supports academic research in the field of migration, attempts to apply these studies to caring for displaced people and seeks to raise social awareness about the reality of this issue.
  • The Chair includes a PhD fellowship programme for researchers and periods of work experience on the ground with organisations specialised in taking in and integrating refugees.
  • It also funds the provision of Spanish linguistic immersion and learning courses for asylum seekers and refugees in Spain.
  • Since 2016, 12 post-graduates have joined different charity organisations to attend to displaced populations in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Ethiopia and Cameroon.
  • The initiative is framed by Inditex's broader refugee and forced migrants support effort, which has continued to evolve since 2001 in collaboration with entities such as Entreculturas and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). 
  • During the last year, over 950,000 migrants, refugees and internally displaced people were supported through community work projects funded by Inditex.

The Chairman and CEO of Inditex, Pablo Isla, and the Dean of Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Julio L. Martínez, this morning signed a three-year agreement to renew the financing for the Chair for Refugees and Forced Migrants, which, since 2016, has been investigating and researching the reality for those forced to flee from their homes. This global project fosters academic and applied research into migration; collaboration with expert charity organisations in this field; expert training; and awareness-building in higher level education.

With these objectives in mind, the Chair will endow and award PhD fellowships to researchers for understanding the plight of refugees within Spain and Europe with a focus on integration.  More specifically, the main initiatives for the next few years will be:

  • Development of a transnational survey for forced and economic migrants, focusing on cases involving at least three countries.
  • Identifying how refugees and forced displaced people are currently integrated in Spain to highlight the best intervention practices that involve the various national, regional and local players to develop effective action plans.

The Chair has already begun a number of lines of quality research in these areas in collaboration with prestigious international research centres such as Harvard, Oxford and Deusto universities. Three PhD theses are currently in progress under the scope of the Chair looking at the Spanish system for receiving and integrating refugees, the southern European border and psychological intervention, respectively. 

Among other issues, these dissertations are attempting to get at the heart of what causes the forced displacement of people, analyse the situation faced by the refugees in their home countries, study the dialogue between various religious groups and make recommendations for the development of international cooperation programmes and projects.

Collaboration with non-governmental organisations

The Inditex Chair also offers students enrolled in the official Cooperation and Migration programmes at Universidad Pontificia Comillas work placements of between six months and one year with national and international organisations working directly with refugees and displaced people. These placements are associated with specific fields of work, for example, the reception and integration of such people in Spain and at refugee camps and regional offices.

Since the programme was created in 2016, at total of 12 post-graduates have joined different internationally renowned organisations such as Entreculturas and the Jesuit Refugee Service in order to directly assist migrants in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Ethiopia and Cameroon, among other countries.

Similarly framed by the desire to build bridges between classrooms and the social reality, the Chair also works to help integrate asylum seekers and refugees by providing Spanish linguistic immersion and learning courses.

Two decades of community work to support refugees

This programme is part of a broader collaboration between Inditex and non-governmental organisations it works with on a long-term basis. This focus has enabled the rollout of international cooperation and humanitarian aid programmes for refugees in many parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe over the past two decades. 

Inditex has been working with the Entreculturas Foundation in this area since 2001. Since then, the Group has contributed over €47 million to financing a range of initiatives that have directly benefitted more than one million people.

The joint work between Inditex and Entreculturas in support of people displaced by and fleeing from the armed conflict in Colombia and in border states such as Panama, Ecuador and Venezuela has been providing humanitarian aid through the Jesuit Refugee Service for over a decade. The fourth phase of this programme began in October 2018, having been adapted for the current context in the wake of the peace agreements in Colombia and the political and economic situation prevailing in Venezuela. The region continues to generate an extremely high incidence of forced migration and its victims are very vulnerable in the places of origin, transit and destination. The target for this round of the programme is to attend to over 18,000 people.

Elsewhere, the Educate People, Generate Opportunities (EPGO) programme aims to improve living conditions for the most vulnerable through education, employment and humanitarian aid. This collaboration between Inditex and Entreculturas has provided assistance to over 100,000 people fleeing from poverty and violence. Specifically, it offers emergency relief, legal and psychological support and professional training courses in Mexico, Lebanon and South Africa.

Nearly one million people supported in 2018

In 2018, the community work carried out by Inditex in collaboration with organisations such as Entreculturas, the Jesuit Refugees Service and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), provided care to 952,935 migrants, refugees and internally displaced people.

Since 2011, Inditex has been collaborating with MSF's Emergency Desk, which provides immediate relief on the ground in the event of sudden crises and catastrophes all around the world. That effort encompasses the needs of refugees trapped by crises such as the conflicts in Syria and Yemen and the displacements associated to Boko Haram in Nigeria, to name just a few.

In Mexico, the Group collaborates with the MSF teams on the ground in several transit shelters where they offer medical and psychological support. MSF also has an Integral Care Centre in Mexico City where it offers expert medical assistance to migrants who are victims of extreme violence, abuse and torture. 

The Group also supports MSF's work in Bangladesh, which is hosting nearly one million Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar. MSF began to work in the region at the end of 2017 with the goal of providing the refugee population with medical care, drinking water and sanitation.

Finally, Inditex has joined the global network, TENT Partnership for Refugees (www.tent.org), which works with the private sector to better the living conditions of over 25 million people who have been forced to leave their home countries. Membership of this initiative, which supports refugees in 34 countries, stands at over 100 enterprises.