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IKEA Solar Lighting Campaign Seeks to Brighten Lives of Refugees in UN Camps

The IKEA Foundation has launched a two-month campaign to raise funds to provide solar-powered lighting and other renewable energy technologies to UN refugee camps run through the sale of light bulbs in its stores around the world.

For every LEDARE model LED bulb sold at IKEA from February 3 until March 29, the IKEA Foundation will donate €1 to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The funds raised through the “Brighter Lives for Refugees” campaign will help to provide solar-powered street lights, indoor solar lanterns, and other renewable energy technologies such as fuel-efficient cooking stoves in camps in countries such as Bangladesh, Chad, Ethiopia and Jordan.

“In 2013, over 2 million people became refugees – a near 20-year record. With each new humanitarian emergency, the support of the private sector becomes more vital and more urgent,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said in a news release on the initiative.

“This campaign represents a new, unique chapter in our relationship with the IKEA Foundation, UNHCR’s largest private sector partner. Together, we hope to be able to transform the lives of many refugees.”

Today, there are nearly 10.5 million refugees globally, around half of which are children, according to UNHCR. Some refugees have no choice but to live in refugee camps, where an absence of light after sunset can have a devastating effect on safety and security.

“Simple activities such as going to the toilet, collecting water or returning to the shelter can become difficult and dangerous, particularly for women and girls,” the agency pointed out.

“The improvements funded by the campaign will make each refugee camp a safer and more suitable home for refugee children and their families,” it noted, adding that the campaign will also fund improved primary education.

The IKEA Foundation has partnered with UNHCR since 2010, helping to provide shelter, care and education to families and children within refugee camps and surrounding communities. The Foundation has to date committed €73 million in support to the UN agency.

The Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer, Per Heggenes, said the campaign “will help bring lights and renewable energy into the streets and homes of refugee camps, so UNHCR can help build a better everyday life for refugee children and families.”

Last summer, the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR announced a pilot program in which IKEA designed temporary housing structures for UN refugee camps, designed to facilitate ‘a feeling of normality’ for the families living there. The project is one of three finalists for the World Impact Design Prize 2013-2014; winner will be honored at the World Design Capital® (WDC) International Design Gala on 28 February 28 in Cape Town, South Africa.

In other IKEA LED news, the Swedish retailer launched a new marketing campaign in the UK last weekend called “The Wonderful Everyday,” which the company says will explain the brand’s values and sustainability ethos to consumers. The first ads will focus on touting LEDs as an energy-saving alternative to incandescent lightbulbs, which IKEA has committed to phasing out by 2016.

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