Following a week-long trip to refugee camps in Africa, top executives of five international companies have pledged to use their business expertise to help the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) in its global mission to help persons who have been forced to flee their homelands. Directors of Nike, Microsoft, Merck, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Manpower visited Somali and Burundian refugees in camps in Kenya and Tanzania.The executives promised to help UNHCR upgrade its information technology in order to better facilitate its international tasks. Nike also announced donations of new sports facilities and classrooms for girls’ education.The five corporations are part of UNHCR’s Council of Business Leaders, set up last year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to build additional bridges between the corporate and the humanitarian communities. “The role of the Council is to advise UNHCR on the best strategies to capitalise on existing joint projects and to develop new and innovative public-private partnerships,” UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis said last week. “The Council also aims to raise awareness of refugee issues in the business world,” she added.There are more than 240,000 refugees in Kenya, the majority from Somalia and Sudan, according to UNHCR, while Tanzania is home to more than 400,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi.