The U.N. Partners With Ikea To Bring 'Better Shelters' To Refugees

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The world's refugees now number more than 50 million for the first time since the aftermath of World War II, according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).

And among the biggest challenges for many of them is shelter.

Traditionally, refugees are set up in tent shelters — those ubiquitous white tents that sit crowded together, sometimes for miles. But those shelters don't provide protection from wind, rain or cold. And they don't protect against intruders. There's also no way to bring electricity inside, leaving residents to heat and cook with dangerous fires.

Now, the Ikea Foundation has teamed up with UNHCR and the not-for-profit group Better Shelter to create just that: a better shelter for refugees. In typical Ikea fashion, it comes in a single box and takes about four hours to assemble while requiring no additional tools.

A prototype is currently being tested by refugees in Syria and Ethiopia, and another 10,000 shelters are expected to be shipped this summer.

The Ikea Foundation's head of strategic planning, Jonathan Spampinato, joins Here & Now's Robin Young from Amsterdam to discuss the new shelters and the issues he hopes they will solve.


This segment aired on May 11, 2015.


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