Per Heggenes, Chief Executive Officer of the IKEA Foundation, visits the world’s largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, and shows how a $62 million gift to the United Nations’ refugee agency will help children there survive.
“A refugee camp in Dadaab in Kenya is not what you would normally associate with IKEA,” Per says, “but there are 250,000 children here. Many of those have gone through terrible ordeals to get here, and they’re just trying to survive.
“And that’s what the IKEA Foundation is all about: trying to help children survive and create a better life for themselves in the future.”
More than 500,000 people live in the camp in Dadaab, a complex that was originally built for 90,000 refugees. The camp has seen a huge surge of new arrivals from Somalia this year as a result of conflict and a devastating famine.
In August, the IKEA Foundation agreed to donate $62 million over the next three years to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
It’s the largest private donation that the UN refugee agency has received in its 60 year history, and the first time a private body has chosen to support a major refugee complex directly.
Olivier Pierre Delarue of UNHCR said: “This donation will enable us to house and feed as many as 120,000 refugees who are fleeing the violence and famine in Somalia.
“We really value this donation from the IKEA Foundation. It is desperately needed.”
While IKEA may not be widely known for its support for children’s educational and health initiatives in developing countries, the IKEA Foundation provides more than just money. It brings partners like UNHCR its expertise in a field that IKEA is well known for: innovation.
Per explains: “We’re not just giving money. We are partnering with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to find new and smarter ways of improving the lives of refugees. And that’s all about innovation.
“This is just the beginning. There’s much more to do.”