Sales of IKEA light bulbs to provide a brighter life for refugees

News Stories, 3 February 2014

© IKEA Foundation/Åsa Sjöström
A solar-powered lantern helps this Somali mother and her child in their shelter eastern Ethiopia's Kobe Refugee Camp.

GENEVA, February 3 (UNHCR) The IKEA Foundation on Monday launched a two-month campaign to raise funds to provide solar-powered lighting and other renewable energy technologies in UNHCR-run refugee camps through the sale of light bulbs in IKEA stores around the world.

For every one of the company's LEDARE brand LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs sold from today until March 29, the IKEA Foundation will donate Є1 to the UN refugee agency. 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.

Today, there are nearly 10.5 million refugees globally, around half of which are children. Some refugees have no choice but to live in refugee camps, where an absence or lack 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 improvements funded by the campaign will make each refugee camp a safer and more suitable home for refugee children and their families. In addition, the campaign will also fund improved primary education.

"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. 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," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

IKEA Foundation Chief Executive Officer Per Heggenes, noting that life in a refugee camp can be very hard, particularly for children, said: "The absence of powered light limits everyday activities we take for granted, such as sharing a meal or doing your homework. It impacts safety and security and the ability for families to generate an income."

He added that the Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign "will help bring lights and renewable energy into the streets and homes of refugees camps, so UNHCR can help build a better everyday life for refugee children and families."

The IKEA Foundation and UNHCR believe that every child deserves a safe place to call home. Since 2010, the IKEA Foundation has partnered with UNHCR, 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 refugee agency.