UN agency partners with IKEA to raise funds to ‘brighten lives' for refugees

A woman carrying a young child receives relief items for her family, at a Red Cross station set up outdoors at the reception centre for refugees and migrants, in the town of Šid, Serbia, on the border with Croatia. Photo: UNICEF/ Shubuckl

23 November 2015 – Amid the deepening global refugee crisis, the IKEA Foundation will restart its ‘Brighter Lives for Refugees’ campaign between November 29 and December 19 in 40 countries, through which the Foundation will donate €1 to the United Nations refugee agency for every light-emitting diode (LED) product sold in all the big-box retailer’s stores and online.

“Finding innovative ways to help refugees is enormously important. The clean energy we’re able to provide with the support from the IKEA Foundation is a practical solution to an essential need and transforms the quality of life for many,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres in a news release on the effort to provide light and energy from renewable sources to refugee camps.

According to the High Commissioner’s Office (UNHCR), the funds generated through the campaign will help in provision of solar-powered street lights, lanterns and solar energy systems that will support energy self-reliance among refugees and host communities in UNHCR camps in Asia, Africa and the Middle East and fund improved access to primary education.

According to UNHCR estimates, there were 19.5 million refugees globally at the beginning of this year, with more than half that number being children.

“With the millions of people worldwide who are forcibly displaced today, the global context for our work is more challenging than ever,” said Mr. Guterres.

Further, the UN agency said that although war and persecution are primary reasons forcing people to flee, climate change and related drivers of displacement including natural disasters such as droughts, floods and diminishing natural resources are also causes for concern.

“Sadly, the escalating refugee crisis caused by protracted conflict situations around the world does not seem likely to calm down any time soon, and lesser-known factors, such as climate change-induced natural disasters, could force even more people to flee for a safe place to call home," explained Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation.

UNHCR reported that the campaign, which started in 2014, will reach its final phase this year and added that a lot of progress has been marked since its initiation.

According to the news release, more than 284,000 refugees and members of host communities in Ethiopia and Jordan are able to live in greater safety at night after 56,000 solar lanterns and the installation of 720 solar street lights were provided to the region.

Additionally, funds generated by the campaign helped more than 37,000 refugee children to be enrolled in primary school in Bangladesh, Chad and Ethiopia, allowing them to pursue their education and also allowed more than 740 teachers to be trained in these countries.

The agency also said that 22 biogas plants were constructed in Bangladesh, allowing for 15 per cent of human waste to be processed and generating green fuel for cooking.

Lastly, the news release also added that the Ikea Foundation, UNHCR’s largest private sector partner since 2010, believes that every child deserves a safe place to call home and the partnership has helped in providing shelter, care and education to families and children in refugee camps and surrounding communities in many parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

UN agency, IKEA campaign to brighten lives of thousands of refugees

Related Stories

In-depth Interviews