In the occasion of the World Refugee Day, last 20 June 2013, the IKEA Foundation unveiled a two-year long project to design an IKEA Refugee Shelter, driven by the Foundation’s belief that every child deserves a safe place to call home. One prototype that is currently under review will be used and tested by refugees living in UNHCR refugees camps at Dollo Ado in Ethiopia and in Lebanon and Northern Iraq to help with the Syria crisis.
The project is a unique collaboration between the Refugee Housing Unit (RHU - a team of Swedish designers) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) orchestrated by the IKEA Foundation. Testing in the field by refugees will help shape a final shelter design, to ensure it can be a dignified and secure housing alternative for the millions of vulnerable refugee families fleeing violence, conflict, persecution and natural disasters.
The shelters have been designed to give a longer-lasting alternative to currently-used refugee tents, which typically have a life span of only six months and are not always suitable for housing refugee families who can live in camps for over 12 years. The new shelters last years, offering both durability and dignity and give refugee families a more comfortable and secure place to call home during a time of enormous personal upheaval. They are modular, offer better security and ventilation and each unit has a renewable energy source.
Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation, said: “Just as IKEA looks for innovative ways to make everyday home life better for many people, the IKEA Foundation, along with our partner organisations, is looking to do the same for vulnerable families, who have lost their homes and everything that is familiar to them".
Johan Karlsson, Project Manager at the Refugee Housing Unit said: “Our partnership with the IKEA Foundation has certainly been vital for this project. As well as providing funding, they have also unlocked the potential for us to work on a global scale, by helping us to secure the support of a major humanitarian organisation. Through a collaborative approach, the RHU, UNHCR and the IKEA Foundation have together developed something which we hope will give comfort and security to vulnerable families across the world".