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UN agency IKEA campaign to brighten lives of thousands of refugees

The campaign – called “Brighter Lives for Refugees” and unveiled throughout February and March – saw the IKEA Foundation donate €1 to UNHCR for every light-emitting diode (LED) bulb purchased by an IKEA customer. The €10.8 million raised during the two-month initiative will now help improve the lives of 380,000 refugees in Bangladesh, Chad, Ethiopia and Jordan. IKEA’s campaign comes at a time of record-breaking displacement around the world amid proliferating crises and conflicts. According to UNHCR’s Mid-Year Trends 2014 Report, released earlier this year, war across large swathes of the Middle East and Africa in the first six months of 2014 forcibly displaced some 5.5 million people, bringing the number of people being helped by UNHCR to 46.3 million as of mid-2014 – some 3.4 million more than at the end of 2013 and a new record high. “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,” UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Thomas Alexander Aleinikoff confirmed in a press release. “In this context, the engagement of the public worldwide through our long-standing partner the IKEA Foundation has never been more important.” At night-time, a lack of light in refugee camps can severely impact the safety and security of refugees, particularly women and children, who remain vulnerable to violence and sexual abuse perpetrated under the cloak of darkness. In Jordan, the UN agency noted, some 11,000 Syrian refugees living in Azraq camp would now be able to 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. Meanwhile, in Chad, over 13,000 refugee children have been enrolled in primary school. “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,” concluded Mr. Aleinikoff. read more