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‘Brighter Lives for Refugees’ Case Study 1 - Kobe Refugee Camp, Ethiopia


‘Brighter Lives for Refugees’ Case Study 1 - Kobe Refugee Camp, Ethiopia

11 March 2014 Also available in:

Markabo and her daughter Maryama* cook a meal under the light of a solar powered lantern.©IKEA Foundation

35 year old Markabo*, lives in Kobe Refugee Camp Dollo Ado, Ethiopia with her three children, eight year old Maryama, five year old Hassan and two year old Ayub.

“We left Somalia three years ago. Kobe is my home now” she explains.

Today there are nearly 10.5 million refugees around the world. Many live in refugee camps similar to Kobe.

“In Somalia I was a farmer. I harvested the land and kept animals including goats and cattle but the drought, the threat of starvation as well as instability and danger forced us to decide to leave. We left with our neighbours traveling fifteen days by foot to get to the Ethiopian border.”

Once at the Ethiopian border Markabo and her family where provided with emergency assistance by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and partners. She was transferred to Kobe Refugee Camp, one of five refugee camps in southern Ethiopia jointly managed by UNHCR and The Ethiopian Administration of Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and homes around 200,000 refugees.

Whilst Markabo and other refugees are provided with food, clean water, safety and shelter, life in the refugee camp is far from easy. After the sun goes down, the absence or lack of any form of light severely limits the activities people can undertake. Simple tasks such as cooking, doing schoolwork, visiting the toilet or collecting water can become difficult and dangerous, particularly for women and girls. With an absence of light, there is a risk of crime, sexual or gender based violence.

Fortunately, for Markarbo, and many other refugee families, this situation is improving. Earlier this year Markarbo was provided with a portable Solar Powered Lantern which when charged, provides a light and power source during the dark of the evening and night. Already this simple, yet hugely effective item is transforming her and her family’s life.

“Before we had the (solar powered) lamp, life slowed down and was difficult after dark. With the lamp, my children can now study and read their books when they come home from school, we use this lamp to guide our way when we have to go outside after dark, which makes it much safer to walk around.”

And the impact of the solar powered lamp on the children’s ability to continue their learning after dark is of particular importance to Markabo.

“I want my children to get an education, and the lamp helps them with this.”

And as a result of IKEA’s new ‘Brighter Lives for Refugees’ cause campaign, many more refugees will benefit from improved lighting and energy solutions. Funds raised by the campaign will provide solar street lights, indoor solar lanterns such as Markarbo’s, and other renewable energy technologies such as fuel efficient cooking stoves. Running in IKEA stores globally, for every LEDARE light-bulb purchased during the campaign period, the IKEA Foundation will donate Є1 to UNHCR to deliver better lighting, renewable energy and primary education in refugee camps.

*Please note all names have been changed



The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.