Gap Inc. makes single biggest clothing donation to date to UN Refugee Agency

Marianne Wilson
Marianne Wilson profile picture
Though she has lost a lot in the last year after fleeing her home in Burkina Faso, 10-year-old Oumou is smiling because she recently received a new dress. Photo credit: UNHCR/Sylvie Tougouma

Gap Inc. has donated 6 million units of apparel to aid the more than 79.5 million forcibly displaced people around the world.

The gift represents one-third of the current annual global demand for clothing and is the single biggest new clothing donation to date for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

"Every day, tens of thousands of people are forced to flee their homes, often with just the clothes on their backs,” said Anne-Marie Grey, Executive Director and CEO of USA for UNHCR The magnitude of the refugee crisis reinforces that challenges of such scale require collaboration and innovation. Thanks to the generosity and support of Gap Inc., we can help deliver protection and assistance to the millions of people who have been forced to flee home due to violence and persecution."

In the initial emergency support phase for refugees, UNHCR provides essential items including tents, buckets, blankets and sleeping mats. But there is immense need beyond these core relief items — and clothing is one of the most critical. This year alone, UNHCR projects that refugees and displaced people worldwide will need a minimum of approximately 15 million pieces of clothing.

"At Gap Inc., we seek to fill the gaps in our world by supporting individuals, families and communities,” said Sally Gilligan, chief information officer and chief strategy officer for Gap Inc. "We believe clothes – and the clothes people wear – can positively impact their lives.  We are proud to partner with UNHCR to address the needs of refugees around the world. We will continue to seek out similar opportunities and hope that this innovative partnership unlocks additional opportunities for other brands to help refugees rebuild their lives."

Gap Inc.'s flexibility with the donation has allowed USA for UNHCR to coordinate with field operations to respond in real-time to where needs are most pressing:

•    4 million units have been committed for distribution in Burkina Faso, a country in the Sahel region of Africa that is facing one of the fastest-growing displacement crises in the world. Regular shipments started in October and are anticipated to be finalized by April 2021. 

•    Approximately 100,000 winter jackets have been shipped to Lebanon, one of the coldest countries in the region, which hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees per capita (approximately 1 million). 

•    56,000 winter jackets and clothing to displaced families hosted in different communities in Armenia were airlifted by The UPS Foundation, a long-term partner of USA for UNHCR, in January 2021. The remaining 1.8+ million units of clothing will be distributed in 2021 to refugees and other vulnerable populations living in regions with critical needs.

The scale of the Gap Inc. donation led to a new partnership between USA for UNHCR and Good360, a charitable organization whose mission is to help companies donate excess merchandise to charities instead of destroying it or selling it for pennies on the pound. USA for UNHCR is now seeking additional partners to expand this program.