UNHCR partners with Merex to support higher education opportunities for refugees through the “Aiming Higher” campaign

UNHCR partners with Merex to support higher education opportunities for refugees through the “Aiming Higher” campaign

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency has organized a 5-month public engagement campaign in Dubai, UAE, in partnership with Merex Investment Group, a joint venture between Brookfield Asset Management and Dubai Holding, which seeks to raise funds for UNHCR’s ‘Aiming Higher’ program to support refugee tertiary education worldwide.

Merex Investment Group has provided UNHCR with spaces at their destinations in Dubai, including City Walk, La Mer and The Beach, where booths have been set up since early November to engage with the public to raise awareness, and allow visitors to express their solidarity, and provide donations for higher education opportunities and university scholarships to aspiring refugee youth.

Since the launch of the campaign at Merex destinations in November, funds have been raised to support nearly 100 students with higher education opportunities. The goal is to support 250 students by end of March.

Over the years, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for refugees to gain access to higher education, especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic implications. UNHCR’s latest Education Report shows that only 5% of refugees are enrolled in higher education.

UNHCR launched its ‘Aiming Higher’ campaign in December 2020 as an international call on companies, foundations, and individuals to support UNHCR’s Refugee Scholarships Programme (DAFI), which seeks to enable refugee students to get into higher education by funding their university scholarships and technical skills training.

Houssam Chahine, UNHCR’s Chief of Private Sector Partnerships in MENA commented on the importance of such activations: “Our vision is a future where refugees are able to participate in education and employment and become not only self-reliant but vital contributors to their local economies, whether they remain at host communities or have returned to their home countries.” He added, “With this campaign and the generosity of supporters in the UAE and Merex Investment Group in particular, we hope to help 1,000 refugee students get scholarships and pursue their aspirations for a brighter future.”


On his part, Shahram Shamsaee, CEO of Merex Investment Group, said: “Our business at Merex Investment Group revolves around people and the livelihood of communities everywhere. And we believe equal access to education is key to enabling successful and thriving societies and countries. In this light, we are honoured to collaborate with UNHCR, as a partner for the Aiming Higher campaign in the UAE, as well to give our visitors an opportunity to make a meaningful difference through their donations. Over the years, our destinations have become the go-to places for residents and tourists alike, and this time around we would like to call on them to support this important cause.”

UNHCR’s Refugee Scholarships Programme (DAFI) is the longest-running and largest standalone higher education scholarship programme for refugees. Over its 28-year history, it has supported more than 18,500 young refugee women and men to pursue their undergraduate degrees.

Interested supporters are welcome to visit UNHCR’s booths at City Walk, La Mer, and The Beach until March 2022 or visit Aiming Higher for more information.