Special Initiatives & Emergency Response

IKEA co-workers among special guests at UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award ceremony

IKEA co-workers who won the IKEA Foundation’s internal What Design Can Do refugee challenge and IKEA managers from 11 countries were special guests Monday night at the Nansen Refugee Award ceremony, hosted by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Geneva and supported by the IKEA Foundation.

This year, the Nansen Refugee Award honours two people who have devoted themselves to helping refugees arriving in Greece: Konstantinos Mitragas, on behalf of the Hellenic Rescue Team, and Efi Latsoudi, the human rights activist behind “PIKPA village” on the Greek island of Lesvos.

According to UNHCR, “The award recognises their tireless voluntary efforts to aid refugees arriving in Greece during 2015 and reflects the spirit of volunteerism across Europe at the height of the refugee and migrant emergency.”

Learning how IKEA can help refugees even more

IKEA co-wokers David Einarsson from Sweden and Silvia Trevisan, Giacomo Cumin, Camilla Ridolfi and Roberta Guerra from Italy won a trip to attend the Nansen award ceremony for taking part in the What Design Can Do challenge and coming up with innovative solutions to some of the problems refugees face.

Also, IKEA country and sustainability managers from Greece, Italy, Serbia, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Hungary, Switzerland, Belgium, Norway and the Netherlands attended the ceremony as well as other panel conversations organised by UNHCR to discuss refugee inclusion and the role IKEA can play in addressing some of the challenges the refugee crisis poses.

The discussions were animated and insightful, with participants leaving with the sense that much more is needed, but there are many IKEA and IKEA Foundation initiatives and programmes that provide hope and inspiration.

Meeting Nansen award winners

Yesterday the same IKEA co-workers and managers had breakfast with the Nansen award winners and personally heard more about their inspiring work, sharing experiences and getting inspired by the two laureates.

After the award ceremony, the Italian team said: “We feel so lucky for the opportunity to be part of this important event. It was very exciting to understand through words, music and dance that all the efforts, work and passion that unite people working with refugees is a unique feeling. It was inspiring to hear the stories of those who put the lives of others before their own. After this experience, we are increasingly convinced that we must not lose hope in new generations, and that their future is peace for everyone.”

Read co-worker blog posts about the Nansen awards