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IKEA: business and philanthropy can take a lead in responding to humanitarian and refugee crises
August 18, 2016, 6:01 pm

On World Humanitarian Day (19 August), the IKEA Foundation is calling on businesses and foundations to support global and local efforts to help refugee families.

Next month, US President Obama will host the Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis during the high-level week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. With more than 65 million people forced to flee their homes, the summit will call for all countries and sections of society to work together to tackle this issue.

The IKEA Foundation believes that businesses and foundations have an important role to play in strengthening the global response to refugee crises worldwide.

Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation, said: "The corporate sector must come together to support those caught up in one of the biggest displacements of people in history. It’s not just up to governments and aid agencies. Businesses also have a responsibility to respond in their own way. We believe businesses have much more to offer. Their expertise and ability to innovate can help make life better for refugees, and they can use their influence to galvanise others to help."

The Foundation supports refugee children and their families around the world through UNHCR and other leading international organisations. On the other hand, the IKEA business makes good use of its creativity and problem-solving skills to find practical ways to help refugees.

Together with social enterprise Better Shelter and UNHCR, the Foundation has created a flat-pack shelter, which is safer and more durable than a tent. UNHCR has already ordered thousands of shelters to house refugee families in Greece, Iraq, Serbia, Chad and Djibouti.

The IKEA Foundation also recently teamed up with Amsterdam-based design platform What Design Can Do and UNHCR to harness the creative power of the design community. The What Design Can Do Refugee Challenge called on designers and creative thinkers to come up with new concepts to make life better for refugee families living in urban areas.

"We’re really proud of how we are able to support our partners in times of disasters and conflict," says Jonathan Spampinato, Head of Communications at the IKEA Foundation.

"On World Humanitarian Day, we’d like to say a huge thank you to our humanitarian partners, especially to their staff and volunteers who work on the frontline in emergencies."

To support refugee children and families living in Iraq, the Foundation has donated 400,000 mattresses, quilts and blankets to UNHCR over three years. Since 2013, it has also been donating IKEA children’s products to UNICEF for its Early Childhood Development Kits, which support the well-being of children, including those affected by conflicts and emergencies.

Earlier this year, the Foundation gave grants worth a total of €9.4 million to Save the Children and Médicins Sans Frontières. The money is supporting children and families affected by the Syrian conflict, in Syria and neighbouring countries. Moreover, the Foundation partnered up with War Child to provide quality education to 10,000 Syrian and Sudanese refugee children through the Can’t Wait to Learn e-learning programme. The Foundation has also helped to strengthen local humanitarian organisations in Bangladesh and Uganda.

Our Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign raised €30.8 million to help (UNHCR) bring renewable energy and education to refugee camps in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. For example, in the Azraq camp in Jordan where, at first, thousands of Syrian refugees had no streetlights or lighting, the campaign has lit up the camp, bringing a sense of safety and security, and making the camp better place for children and families. As well as providing streetlights and solar lanterns, it is paying for a six megawatt solar farm in Azraq refugee camp, home to over 30,000 Syrians.

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