Saturday, April 11, 2015

Thank you IKEA for shining a light on refugees

For every LED light bulb sold in IKEA stores between February and March 2015, the IKEA Foundation donated €1 (AED3.88) to UN refugee agency (UNHCR) to light refugee camps -- making them a safer, more suitable place for the many families who live there.

Under its “Brighter Lives for Refugees” campaign, the IKEA Foundation drive in the global retailer's stores has so far this year raised €10.8 million (AED 42 million) that will improve the lives of refugees by providing educational opportunities and distributing renewable energy devices such as solar lights, UNHCR said in a statement on Friday (April 10).
The funds will help improve the lives of 380,000 refugees in Bangladesh, Chad, Ethiopia and Jordan.
"Thanks to IKEA's co-workers and customers, thousands of refugee children and families will now have access to sustainable energy and lighting," said Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation. "Simple activities like sharing a family meal, doing homework and important social gatherings will now be possible for some of the most vulnerable people on our planet."
The campaign, which began in 2014, raised €7.7 million (AED30 million) last year. Already thousands of refugees have benefited.
In Jordan, some 11,000 Syrian refugees living in Azraq camp can move around safely after 500 solar streetlights and LED streetlights were installed. In refugee camps around Dollo Ado in Ethiopia, 40,000 solar lanterns -- one per refugee family -- and 240 streetlights are being delivered. In Chad, over 13,000 refugee children have been enrolled in primary school.
"The number of displaced people worldwide has, for the first time since World War II, exceeded 50 million people, including 13 million refugees who are under UNHCR's care," said UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees T. Alexander Aleinikoff. About half are children.
"In this context, the engagement of the public worldwide through our long-standing partner, the IKEA Foundation, has never been more important. I greatly appreciate the efforts of IKEA co-workers and the support of the customers who participated in this global campaign so that we can make the lives of thousands of refugees better and brighter," Aleinikoff said.

A lack of light in refugee camps after sunset can have a devastating effect on safety and security. The loss of daylight means that even simple activities like using the toilet, collecting water or returning to the shelter can become dangerous, particularly for women and girls. The campaign focuses on providing renewable energy solutions like solar-powered streetlights, solar-powered lanterns and fuel-efficient cooking stoves that make camps safer and more comfortable.
Providing sustainable lighting can have a huge effect on the quality of life in a refugee camp:
  • Solar lanterns help children study after dark, improving results in school.
  • Solar street lights enable people to have more community gatherings and social activities.
  • Solar lanterns allow refugees to continue important income-generating activities, such as weaving or sewing, long after the sun goes down.
  • Solar lanterns enable refugees to run their small shops and kiosks into the evening so they can earn a sustainable income.
The IKEA Foundation has partnered with UNHCR since 2010, helping to provide shelter, care and education in refugee camps and surrounding communities. The Foundation has to date committed more than €125 million (AED486 million) in support to UNHCR.