March 31, 2015 — The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has for several years been working with IKEA and designers to create temporary shelters for refugees. The homes have been tested on refugees in Ethiopia, Iraq and Lebanon, and now UNHCR has purchased 10,000 of the Ikea Foundation's temporary flat-pack shelters. Each shelter can be assembled on site in about four hours and without special tools. The living space is 17.5 square meters (188 square feet), which is expected to be sufficient to accommodate up to five people. Each is equipped with solar panels and lamps, and should last three years. There are many refugees in IKEA’s home country of Sweden, but this summer, UNHCR will start delivering shelters to thousands of families in refugee camps in the actual areas of crisis.
The independent charitable foundation that oversees IKEA’s global philanthropy, IKEA Foundation, is "working toward a world where children living in poverty have more opportunities to create a better future for themselves and their families." The Foundation supports refugee families through the UNHCR and other leading charities and has committed $80 million to UNHCR alone to provide shelter, care and education to families and children in crisis areas.