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IKEA Foundation gives UNHCR US$62 million for Somali refugees in Kenya

Children race each other to pass the time in one of the refugee camps at Dadaab in north-east Kenya. The IKEA Foundation donation will help such people.


GENEVA, 30 AUG 2011 - The UN High Commissioner for Refugees today announced a landmark $62 million donation from the IKEA Foundation geared towards expanding emergency relief for the thousands of people at the worlds largest refugee complex in Dadaab, Kenya.

The donation, which will be staggered over three years, is expected to help up to 120,000 people - almost a quarter of the existing population of Dadaab. It is the largest private donation that the UN refugee agency has received in its 60 year history, and the first time that a private body has chosen to directly support a major refugee complex.

"This humanitarian gesture by the IKEA Foundation comes at a critical time,said António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the head of UNHCR. The crisis in the Horn of Africa continues to deepen with thousands of people fleeing Somalia every week. We are extremely grateful. Help like this can’t come a moment too soon."  

Dadaab, which lies in a remote region of northeast Kenya, was first opened in the early 1990s. This year it has seen a dramatic surge in new arrivals as a result of the conflict and drought in Somalia. Originally designed for 90,000 people it now hosts a population of approximately 440,000 refugees, 150,000 of whom have arrived in the last months alone. This is putting enormous strain on those living and working there as well as host communities. Many of the newly arrived refugees are suffering malnutrition, and are in critical condition.

The IKEA Foundation donation will immediately help UNHCR expand its life-saving help for people already arrived at the camp.

"This initiative is a bold but natural extension of IKEA Foundations longstanding commitment to making a better everyday life for children and families in need throughout the developing world, said Per Heggenes, Chief Executive Officer of the IKEA Foundation. Supporting UNHCR, both immediately and over the long term, is one of the most effective ways to immediately make a difference in the lives of thousands of refugee children and their families."

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, relies on donations to help millions of refugees and other displaced people around the world. Most of these donations are from governments. At $62 million, the IKEA Foundation donation represents a new level for support to refugees from a private body.

UNHCR needs over $400 millions to provide humanitarian assistance for about 850,000 refugees who flee from draught in Somalia. UNHCR stills needs more support from all international communities to help Somali emergency situation.