Starbucks to hire 2,500 refugees across Europe in defiance of social media backlash

The world's largest coffee chain said it had already started the hiring the refugees, which will represent around 8 per cent of its current European workforce of 30,000

Ben Chapman
Wednesday 21 June 2017 11:35 BST
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The 2,500 European jobs are part of a global plan to take on 10,000 refugees in 75 countries that Seattle-based Starbucks announced in January
The 2,500 European jobs are part of a global plan to take on 10,000 refugees in 75 countries that Seattle-based Starbucks announced in January (Reuters)

Starbucks will hire 2,500 refugees across Europe by 2022 as part of a wider plan that sparked a social media backlash when it was announced in January.

The world's largest coffee chain said on Tuesday that it had already started the hiring the refugees, which it said would represent around 8 per cent of its current European workforce of 30,000.

Starbucks' commitment was made to coincide with World Refugee Day and proves “that businesses like ours can use its scale to make a positive impact in people's lives," said Martin Brok, president of Starbucks for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The company will roll out the initiative in Britain, France, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands.

The 2,500 European jobs are part of a global plan to take on 10,000 refugees in 75 countries that Seattle-based Starbucks announced in January. That move came in response to US President Donald Trump's executive order suspending America’s refugee programme as well as temporarily banning the entry of citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations to America.

The company faced fierce criticism from some people using the #BoycottStarbucks hashtag on social media. So far, only a handful of people on Twitter appear to have expressed disapproval of the latest announcement regarding European hires.

Europe’s refugee crisis shows no signs of abating. Around 360,000 refugees and migrants arrived on the Europe’s shores last year, many from war-torn Syria and Iraq as well as African countries including Guinea and Mali, according to the UN refugee agency.

The UN recently put this year’s death toll from those making the perilous Mediterranean crossing at 1,843.

Last week, the European Commission launched legal proceedings against three European Union member states who have refused to take in refugees.

Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are accused of not fulfilling their obligations outlined in a 2015 plan to relocate migrants from Italy and Greece, to help share the burden. The three Eastern European countries have taken in a total of just 12 people since the agreement started.

The wave of refugees and migrants in recent years is widely thought to have contributed to the rise of populist nationalist movements in several European countries.

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