GENEVA, August 30, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - 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 world's largest refugee complex in Dadaab, Kenya. 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. 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.
"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 people, 150,000 of whom have arrived in the last months alone. This is putting enormous strain on those living and working there. Many of the new arrivals 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 Foundation's 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.
About the IKEA Foundation
The IKEA Foundation aims to improve the opportunities for children and youth by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change, and enable them to take charge of their own future. We work with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child's life. Currently funded programmes benefit an estimated 100 million children. Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org.