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UNHCR receives largest private sector contribution for Afghanistan crisis in 2021

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UNHCR receives largest private sector contribution for Afghanistan crisis in 2021

The LEGO Foundation and KIRKBI, the owners of the LEGO Group, contribute 30 million DKK US$4.7 million) to support UNHCR's emergency response in Afghanistan.
26 August 2021
Afghanistan. Worsening conflict in northern Afghanistan uproots thousands
9-year-old Nazeela watches the local elders chat.

Today, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the announcement of a 30 million DKK (US$4.7 million) contribution from the LEGO Foundation and KIRKBI, the owners of the LEGO Group, to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. This donation – the largest single contribution by the private sector towards UNHCR’s Afghanistan 2021 supplementary appeal – will help meet the growing needs of those who have been internally displaced by the conflict, including vulnerable children.

UNHCR is deeply worried about the present situation and future prospects of Afghan children growing up amid this crisis with an estimated 60 per cent of people displaced since May 2021 under the age of 18.

“This grant is an important part of The LEGO Foundation’s ongoing commitment to supporting children affected by crisis,” said John Goodwin, CEO, The LEGO Foundation. Explaining the LEGO Foundation’s global work further, he noted, “We know that by giving attention to young children and their continued access to learning in crisis settings we can make a big positive difference to them immediately and in the long-term. Together with UNHCR, we hope to provide more children with access to play-based early childhood education, needed to develop skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving. Social and emotional skills are especially vital for children to overcome the stressors caused by crisis situations, build resilience and adapt to the needs of the rapidly changing world.”

“The role of the private sector is crucial to supporting refugees. This support is even more vital when it comes to an emergency response and exemplifies the spirit of the Global Compact on Refugees,” says Indrika Ratwatte, UNHCR Director for Asia & the Pacific. “Thank you to the LEGO Foundation and KIRKBI for leading the way with their generous contribution and showing other private sector companies how they can help.”

Support from the private sector is critical for UNHCR’s emergency response to the crisis in Afghanistan, where more than 3.5 million people are currently internally displaced, including more than half a million since the beginning of the year.

In July 2021, as the crisis in Afghanistan began rapidly escalating, UNHCR appealed for US$62.8 million to cover the period July-December 2021 for an emergency response that prioritizes preparedness in Afghanistan and nearby countries (the Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan).

This donation from the LEGO Foundation and KIRKBI is part of a larger grant of 100 million DKK (US$15.7 million), which will be distributed to UNHCR and other organizations to support vulnerable children in Afghanistan and Haiti.

The LEGO Foundation has been a strong supporter of the refugee cause, especially refugee children. At the Global Refugee Forum in December 2019, the LEGO Foundation announced a US$100 million grant for play-based learning through PlayMatters, an initiative to strengthen resilience and develop the social, emotional, cognitive, physical and creative skills of young refugees. Earlier this year, the LEGO Foundation and UNHCR announced a new partnership to ensure that refugee children in Ethiopia are learning through play during COVID-19.



UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee because of conflict and persecution. We deliver life-saving assistance like shelter, food and water, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. For more information:

About the LEGO Foundation

The LEGO Foundation aims to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow; a mission that it shares with the LEGO Group. The LEGO Foundation is dedicated to building a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. Its work is about re-defining play and re-imagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for learning through play. Learn more on


KIRKBI A/S is the Kirk Kristiansen family’s private holding and investment company founded to build a sustainable future for the family ownership of the LEGO® brand through generations. The KIRKBI Group is focused on three fundamental tasks all contributing to enabling the Kirk Kristiansen family to succeed with the mission to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow: To protect, develop and leverage the LEGO brand across all the LEGO branded entities, commitment to a long-term and responsible investment strategy to ensure a sound financial foundation for the owner family’s activities as well as contributing to a sustainable development in the world. And, dedicated support the family members as they prepare for future generations to continue the active and engaged ownership as well as supporting their private activities, companies and philanthropic work. KIRKBI’s strategic activities include among others 75% ownership of the LEGO Group.