IKEA Foundation Supports World Humanitarian Day, Calls on Businesses and Foundations to Support the Refugee Crisis
Today on World Humanitarian Day, the IKEA Foundation is calling on businesses and foundations to support global and local efforts to help refugee families. Next month, 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. Financial support, through giving grants to organisations working directly with refugees, is certainly one way they can help. But 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.”
Focus on innovation and creativity
The IKEA Foundation supports refugee children and their families around the world through UNHCR and other leading international organizations. And the IKEA business makes good use of its creativity and problem-solving skills to find practical ways to help refugees.
Together with social enterprises 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 shelter will be on show at Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter, an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from October 1, 2016 to January 22, 2017.
“This is a great example of how IKEA’s democratic design principles—of making good design available to the many people—have also influenced innovation in the humanitarian sector,” said Per. “The shelters are helping people who have been forced to flee their homes to live a better everyday life while in displacement.”
As well as looking for innovative design solutions, the IKEA Foundation provides financial support and donates IKEA products to partner organizations working in humanitarian crises.
“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 over $9 million (€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 neighboring countries. It will pay for healthcare, education and child protection and help strengthen local organizations working within Syria. 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 program.
Support frontline efforts
Using a similar approach, the IKEA Foundation is supporting a three-year program run by Oxfam to strengthen local humanitarian organizations in Bangladesh and Uganda. The over $7 million (€7.3 million) grant, which was announced at the World Humanitarian Summit in May, marks a major shift in the way the international community views emergency response.
Engaging customers and co-workers
Another way businesses can help is by mobilizing their staff and customers to support refugees. In 2014-15, IKEA and the IKEA Foundation ran a campaign called Brighter Lives for Refugees. For every lamp or bulb sold in IKEA stores during the three campaign periods, the IKEA Foundation donated $1 dollar to UNHCR.
Mona Astra Liss, IKEA US Corporate PR Director
Mona.Liss@IKEA.com, 610.834.0180 ext. 5852
About the IKEA Foundation
The IKEA Foundation (Stichting IKEA Foundation) is the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies. We aim to improve opportunities for children and youth in some of the world’s poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programs that can create substantial, lasting change. The IKEA Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and a sustainable family income, while helping these communities fight and cope with climate change.