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The flat-pack solution is making a big difference to refugees.

The flat-pack solution is making a big difference to refugees.

(Leiden, the Netherlands.) The IKEA Foundation is constantly looking to see how resources can make the greatest positive impact on the lives of millions of children living in poverty in developing countries. With their long-term partner the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), this has led to a unique donation: IKEA’s logistics knowledge.

Every year millions of children and their families are forced to flee their homes, because of famine, war or persecution, and when they do it is often UNHCR that offers their first hope of safety. At any given time UNHCR has the capacity to respond to a new emergency, assisting up to 600,000 people, within 72 hours. When every minute counts, everything from how a warehouse is designed to how a shelter tent is packed makes a big difference.

“For most people, when they think of a refugee camp it is already in place and full of people but in the first hours of an emergency, the biggest challenge for UNHCR is ensuring that the camp is set up quickly and efficiently. The project with the IKEA Foundation is helping UNHCR to save time and resources when we most need to” says Olivier Delarue, Senior Advisor on Private Sector Partnerships of UNHCR Innovation.

The ‘knowledge donation’ from the IKEA Foundation brings together logistics experts from IKEA and UNHCR. To date, nine workshops have been held at IKEA offices in Älmhult, Sweden, most recently on 4th and 5th June 2012.

The workshops have focused on specialist areas including:

  • Quality
  • Product design
  • Packaging
  • Warehouse network design
  • Procurement
  • Transportation
  • IT

By sharing their expertise and knowledge, IKEA co-workers have been able to take the skills that are the core of the IKEA way of working – low prices, simple and efficient packaging, stackable products and much more, and see them used to help many millions more people have a place to call home.

“IKEA is always looking at how to make products easier to pack or to move, whether large or small; how to reduce costs and keep the high quality of a product. These are skills that can prove invaluable to our partners at UNHCR and can help make their jobs that little bit easier,” said Bo Ericson, the project leader at IKEA who has been actively involved in the workshops.

UNHCR estimates that there are at least 42.5 million refugees and displaced persons worldwide, and it is estimated that the majority are children. “World Refugee Day is the perfect day for everyone to think about how they can make a unique contribution to help refugee children and families.” said Per Heggenes, CEO, IKEA Foundation. “The IKEA Foundation believes every child should have a safe place to call home, and we believe sharing the skills and expertise of our co-workers at IKEA will help make this a reality for millions of refugee children.”

Since 2009, IKEA Foundation has funded UNHCR projects that provide shelter, care, education and training within refugee camps giving children the opportunity to build a better life for themselves and their families. Last year, IKEA Foundation awarded UNHCR a grant of €43.4 million to fund an innovative 3-year partnership to provide shelter and care for 120,000 families fleeing famine and conflict in the Horn of Africa.

About IKEA Foundation

The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in developing countries by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change. The 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 sustainable family income. Currently-funded programmes benefit an estimated 100 million children.

Learn more at


The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was created 60 years ago by the United Nations to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and solve refugee problems. Since then, the agency has provided life-saving help and protection to millions of refugees and other people displaced by conflict and persecution. UNHCR has twice received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its work. Worldwide there are some 43 million refugees, internally displaced people, and asylum seekers, and most of these people are under UNHCR's care. The UN refugee agency is also working to end the plight of the world's estimated 12 million stateless people. UNHCR is present in 126 countries. Over 80% of its staff work in field locations, close to refugees.

For more information, please contact:

Tel: (+31) 611 756 336