IKEA Brings Sustainable Lighting to UNHCR Refugee Camps

A new cause campaign, ‘Brighter Lives for Refugees’ will run in IKEA stores globally from 3 February to 29 March 2014. For every LEDARE (LED light bulb) sold during the campaign, the IKEA Foundation will donate Є1 (US$1.37) to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). Funds raised by the campaign will help to provide solar street lights, indoor solar lanterns, and other renewable energy technologies such as fuel efficient cooking stoves in UNHCR refugee camps in countries including Ethiopia, Chad, Bangladesh and Jordan. 

35 year old Somali refugee Markabo and her 8 year old daughter Maryama cook a meal under the light of a solar powered lantern, in the shelter in Kobe Refugee Camp, Dollo Ado Ethiopia. (Photo Courtesy of IKEA Foundation)

Today, there are nearly 10.5 million refugees globally, around half of which are children. Some refugees have no choice but to live in refugee camps, where an absence or lack of light after sunset can have a devastating effect on safety and security. Simple activities such as visiting the toilet, collecting water or returning to the shelter from elsewhere can become difficult and dangerous, particularly for women and girls. The improvements funded by the campaign will make each refugee camp a safer and more suitable home for refugee children and their families. In addition the campaign will also fund improved primary education. 

30 year old Somali refugee Nunay, watches over her children and their friends as they play under the shade of a tree in Kobe Refugee Camp, Dollo Ado Ethiopia.(Photo Courtesy of IKEA Foundation)

“In 2013, over 2 million people became refugees – a near twenty-year record. With each new humanitarian emergency the support of the private sector becomes more vital and more urgent,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. “This campaign represents a new, unique chapter in our relationship with the IKEA Foundation, UNHCR’s largest private sector partner. Together, we hope to be able to transform the lives of many refugees.” 

Forty-year-old Somali refugee Zhara (red) stands with her young son and husband Amir, a teacher, in the Hilaweyn refugee camp in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia (Photo Courtesy of  © UNHCR/D. Corcoran)

The IKEA Foundation believes that every child deserves a safe place to call home. Since 2010 the IKEA Foundation has partnered with UNHCR, helping to provide shelter, care and education to families and children within refugee camps and surrounding communities. 

A class of Somali girls participate in a English lessons at their school in Kobe Refugee  Camp, Dollo Ado, Ethiopia. (Photo Courtesy of IKEA Foundation)

“Life in a refugee camp can be very hard, particularly for children. The absence of powered light limits everyday activities we take for granted such as sharing a meal or doing your homework,” explained Per Heggenes, CEO, IKEA Foundation. “It impacts safety and security and the ability for families to generate an income. The ‘Brighter Lives for Refugees’ campaign will help bring lights and renewable energy into the streets and homes of refugees camps, so UNHCR can help build a better everyday life for refugee children and families.” 

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