A group of Swedish entrepreneurs and humanitarians is tired of witnessing refugees drowning in the Mediterranean and has decided to do something about it. Refugee Air aims to make safe routes into the EU a reality.
"We're going to have a first airplane flying refugees to safety before the first snow falls over Stockholm," says Susanne Najafi, co-initiator of Refugee Air.
Refugees without visas are currently not able to travel by air due to "Carriers Liability", an EU directive making carriers financially liable for all costs related to passengers who are not ultimately granted asylum at their destination in the EU.
"These policies push refugees into the hands of smugglers who take advantage of their desperation," says Emad Zand, co-initiator of Refugee Air. "It's senseless, we can't just sit and watch people die. We're going to show that it doesn't have to be this way."
With backing from both private and corporate donors, Refugee Air plans to either charter airplanes or work with existing airlines to enable refugees to safely travel from areas of unrest to safety in the EU.
"As entrepreneurs we find solutions, and if we can fly people to the moon, why shouldn't we be able to fly refugees safely to Europe," says Najafi. Besides actually flying refugees to safety, the initiative is also pushing for a sustainable solution to remove the wall around Europe that the directive on Carrier's Liability has raised.
The initiative Refugee Air started over the weekend and has quickly grown into a collaborative movement engaging hundreds of Sweden's most influential entrepreneurs, lawyers, and other leading professionals all working hands-on to get Refugee Air off the ground.
Refugee Air is a non-profit initiative led by action-driven entrepreneurs and humanitarians aimed at enabling refugees to safely travel into the EU. We know how to solve problems and get things done and we want to make a difference right now. We're putting crowd-sourced competencies and our extensive networks to work to save lives and drive positive change.
Susanne Najafi is a serial entrepreneur who has built a large number of companies across industries. She now invests in new ideas and start-up ventures.
Emad Zand, is a serial entrepreneur within healthcare and tech and has built and run companies employing thousands of people.