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Joint Communique: UNHCR and Sheraton setting up Innovative Partnership in Tajikistan

Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 30 June, 2017
A Letter of Understanding (LoU), aimed at expanding skills training opportunities in the area of hospitality and basic tourism sector, for both refugees and local Tajik population, was officially signed today between the Representation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Sheraton Hotel in Dushanbe.
This LoU represents a strong commitment within a strategic and innovative partnership between UNHCR and the Sheraton Hotel in Dushanbe by maximizing the complementary roles, capacities and expertise towards supporting local and refugee youth, in enhancing their professional knowledge, skills and possible employment opportunities in the hospitality industry and basic tourism sector.
Under the LoU, the Sheraton Hotel in Dushanbe will provide professional training sessions and apprenticeship opportunities for refugee and local youth referred by the Adult Education Centre under the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Employment of the Republic of Tajikistan. The Sheraton Hotel in Dushanbe will conduct intakes twice per year with spaces made available for refugee youth as well as youths from host communities - at no cost. The programme to the extent possible, strives to include 50% participation of refugees residing in Tajikistan. This four-month professional training/apprenticeship programme envisages exposing apprentices to core aspects of the hospitality industry and basic tourism sector, in order that they can avail themselves to job opportunities and compete in the labour market. Upon completion of the training programme, the apprentices will be issued with accredited certificates.
The programme marks a collaboration between the Sheraton Hotel in Dushanbe and UNHCR in Tajikistan, as well as with the Adult Education Centre and UNHCR’s social assistance partner, NGO Refugee Children and Vulnerable Citizens (RCVC), who will jointly select apprentices based on unanimously agreed eligibility criteria. In its pilot stage, 5 refugees and 5 Tajik youth are expected to participate in the program.
UNHCR and the Sheraton Hotel, Dushanbe have also undertaken this endeavour in order to further promote peaceful coexistence amongst refugees and host communities, taking into account the diversity of participants in the programme.
According to Mr. Vito Trani, the UNHCR Representative in Tajikistan: ‘’The signature of this important Letter of Understanding between the UNHCR Representation in Tajikistan and the Sheraton Hotel in Dushanbe represents a pioneering initiative that both the Manager of the Sheraton Hotel and I have believed in since the very preliminary discussions. It denotes not only an innovative and strategic partnership, but paves the way for future enhanced cooperation between the two parties-always for the best interest of persons of concern to UNHCR mandate in Tajikistan. In this specific moment when donors are reducing their contributions to humanitarian agencies, it is essential to explore new partnerships, further strengthen the existing interactions with the private sector, and take all necessary measures to improve the impact of our field activities on the lives of beneficiaries that ultimately will be further enhancing their livelihoods and self-reliance capacity’’.
On the occasion of the signing of the LOU, Mr. Toni Toshev, the General Manager of Sheraton Hotel, Dushanbe stated that: “The signing of this Letter of Understanding represents the Marriott International Company’s vision and common goals of creating a World of Opportunity for the locals and underprivileged youth. The diversity of our Hotel’s operation and number of jobs available in our properties uniquely enables us to provide educational and work-study experiences that prepares young people for their future in the hospitality industry. This includes further development opportunities for underserved populations – allowing them to gain professional skills leading to meaningful careers. This partnership between Sheraton Hotel in Dushanbe and UNHCR Representation in Tajikistan represents the first step of a pilot project that we believe will benefit local Tajik and refugee youths who are passionate about the tourism sector. It will surely contribute to open doors to the growing tourism industry in accordance with the national strategic plan of the Republic of Tajikistan“.
Tajikistan currently hosts the largest number of refugees in the Central Asian region; some 3000 refugees and asylum seekers reside in Tajikistan, primarily from neighbouring Afghanistan. At the same time, around 26,000 persons at risk of statelessness have been identified in targeted districts since the launch of the joint UNHCR and Government national pilot project to address statelessness.
UNITED NATIONATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: UNHCR in the world is saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. From 1993, the UNHCR in Tajikistan works with the Government of Tajikistan and inter-agency partners in three primary areas: protection and local integration of refugees, leading emergency preparedness for potential of cross-border flows from neighboring countries; and addressing the issue of statelessness in Tajikistan.
SHERATON HOTEL IN DUSHANBE is a part of Marriott International, Inc providing luxury services within the hospitality industry all over the world. The Sheraton Dushanbe in Hotel offers a wide variety of high level services for its customers while it has fully-fledged programs within its corporate social responsibility in Tajikistan, which is ultimately contributing to the strengthening of the hospitality and tourism industry in the country.
For further information please contact:
Ms. Nodira Akbaralieva
Public Information Focal point at UNHCR in Tajikistan
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