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One Tweet Sparks Viral Campaign to Find Job for Refugee Rocket Scientist

Why Global Citizens Should Care
The UN's Global Goals cannot be achieved without taking into account the needs of refugees, the internally displaced, and stateless people. And yet, European policy is becoming increasingly hostile to those trying to reach a safe place, particularly those crossing the Mediterranean. As Mohamed Elbarkey's story shows, people just need to be given a chance. You can join us by taking action here to stand in solidarity with refugees. 

It started with a young refugee and a handmade sign asking for a job. Now, it’s a viral campaign that has sparked the imagination of thousands of people across the world. 

Mohamed Elbarkey, 22, came to the UK as a 3-year-old refugee from Libya, and went on to study aerospace engineering at Southampton University and is finishing his masters degree in space engineering at UCL, according to Press Association

Desperate for a job in finance, he decided to make a sign advertising his skills and stand at the centre of London’s financial district, Canary Wharf, hoping he’d strike lucky.

Take action: Refugee? Migrant? Human Being. Show Your Support for All People — No Matter Where They Were Born

“Came as a refugee, just graduated from UCL in rocket science. Looking for a career in finance. Ask for CV,” he wrote on his sign.

It was there that he met Mary Engleheart, digital manager at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), who posted the tweet that kick-started the viral campaign. 

“I met Mohamed coming out of the tube at Canary Wharf this morning,” Engleheart posted on Twitter on Tuesday. “He came to the UK as a child refugee and has two degrees in Space Engineering. He’s looking for a job in finance. Please RT. DM me for his CV if you want to hire someone smart who thinks outside the box.” 

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The tweet has since been shared over 13,000 times and liked more than 19,000 times, and a lot of people are getting involved in the call to help Elbarkey, using the hashtag #GetMohamedAJob. People have reportedly reached out to help from the UK, Germany, France, Australia, and the United States. 

And it might have actually worked. 

According to an update from Engleheart on Thursday, Elbarkey now has three interviews at banks lined up for Friday. 

“These fantastic opportunities are all down to a combination of Mohamed’s own drive coupled with the public’s support,” said a blog post from the IRC. 

“Mohamed is just one of the millions of refugees who are striving to contribute to society and carve out careers and futures for themselves,” it added. “Mohamed’s story shows that when refugees are given the opportunity, they thrive!” 

Engleheart later tweeted that she had been totally “overwhelmed” by the “amazing response.” 

The campaign to help Elbarkey coincided with a refugee and migrant rescue ship being stranded at sea for almost a week as European countries were locked in a stand-off about who would allow the 141 people on board the vessel to disembark. 

The Aquarius rescue shop had rescued those on board from the Mediterranean on August 10, but the ship was only finally able to dock in Valleta, Malta, on Thursday morning. 

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Medicins Sans Frontierre, which operates the Aquarius, said it’s “relieved that a place of safety has been found,” but added that “long-term sustainable solutions that address the humanitarian crisis on the Central Mediterranean are still desperately needed.” 

“This is the responsibility of the EU as a whole, and we look forward to seeing more concrete examples of European leadership and solidarity on this issue in the future,” it said in a statement. “However, we remain gravely concerned about the current situation on Central Mediterranean and the future of humanitarian action at sea.” 

As refugee and graduate Elbarkey drives a viral campaign to get him a job in London it begs the question, why was Europe so reluctant to grant a safe home this week to 141 other refugees and migrants also looking for the chance to build a new life for themselves?