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Billionaire investor George Soros pledged on Tuesday to invest up to $500 million in programs and companies benefiting migrants and refugees fleeing life-threatening situations.
Announced against the backdrop of an ongoing United Nations (U.N.) summit in New York, Soros explained that he wished to harness the power of the private sector for public good.
"We will invest in startups, established companies, social impact initiatives, and businesses started by migrants and refugees. These investments are intended to be successful. But our primary focus is to create products and services that truly benefit migrants and host communities," the 86-year-old said in an official statement.
"I hope my commitment will inspire other investors to pursue the same mission."
On Monday, the U.N. opened its first summit addressing the current refugee and migrant crisis. The U.N. and Unicef calculate that a record 65 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes in 2015, with more than half from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia, Reuters reported.
The increasing number of asylum seekers from those war-torn nations has sparked political debate in Europe and the U.S. over where the refugees should be resettled. The issue has been clouded by economic migration, with large numbers of people reportedly seeking entrance to developed nations in the hope of better prospects as global growth slows.
The Open Society Foundations (OSF), a non-profit organization owned by Soros, will be in charge of the funds, the statement said. Any profits from the investments would go to the OSF's migrant and refugee-related programs, which include community centers in Greece and initiatives to provide Syrian refugees with legal advice.
"Refugees need access to financial and legal services, education, and employment opportunities; we believe the private sector is uniquely placed to help build the infrastructure needed to support these services," the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said of the Soros investment.