IKEA Foundation donates mattresses, duvets and covers for Libya-displaced

News Stories, 24 May 2011

© UNHCR/R.Nuri
Distribution of the IKEA mattresses in Choucha camp.

RAS ADJIR, Tunisia, May 23 (UNHCR) IKEA has been furnishing homes around the world for years. It has also been providing humanitarian aid to some of the world's neediest people, including those fleeing the violence in Libya.

The world's largest home furnishing company, through the IKEA Foundation, is donating some of its bedroom products to the forcibly displaced in Tunisia under a partnership with UNHCR.

UNHCR staff last week began distributing thousands of mattresses, duvets (quilts) and duvet covers to refugees and migrant workers living in tents at Choucha camp, which is located close to the Ras Adjir crossing on Tunisia's border with Libya. Tens of thousands of people have passed through the camp after fleeing from the violence that has been sweeping Libya since mid-February.

Some of the items were also distributed in Remada camp, further south, among Libyan refugees displaced by fighting in the Western Mountains. UNHCR plans to include IKEA mattresses and duvets in aid packages for Libyan families staying with host communities in the provinces of Tataouine and Medinine, which are together hosting up to 50,000 Libyan refugees.

The IKEA Foundation has pledged 50,000 mattresses, 50,000 duvets and 50,000 duvet covers for UNHCR's operation to help those displaced by the violence in Libya. The first 10,000 mattresses were flown to Tunisia last week, free of charge, by UPS, another of UNHCR's corporate partners. The remaining items are due to arrive in Tunisia over the next month.

Since mid-February, more than 400,000 people have fled to Tunisia from Libya, including Tunisians, Libyans, refugees, asylum-seekers and migrant workers.

The IKEA Foundation has donated cash, goods and services worth more than US$10 million to the refugee agency since October 2010. Its generosity has helped forcibly displaced people in Kyrgyzstan and Somali refugees in Kenya.

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UNHCR Supplementary Appeal

UNHCR Supplementary Budget: The Libya Situation, March 2011

Angelina Jolie meets boat people in Malta, Lampedusa

Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie joined UNHCR chief António Guterres on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where they met with boat people who have fled unrest in North Africa.

More than 40,000 people, including refugees and asylum-seekers, have crossed the Mediterranean on overcrowded boats and descended on the small island since the beginning of the year.

The UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador flew to Lampedusa from Malta, which has also been a destination for people fleeing North Africa by boat.

Angelina Jolie meets boat people in Malta, Lampedusa

Displacement Challenges for Libya

Libya endured severe upheaval in 2011 and the next government faces major challenges moving the country forward after four decades of Muammar Gaddafi's rigid rule. One task will be addressing and resolving the issue of tens of thousands of internally displaced people. Some are waiting for their homes to be repaired or rebuilt, but many more have been forced to desert their towns and villages because of their perceived support for Gaddafi and alleged crimes committed during the conflict. Meanwhile, growing numbers of people, including refugees and asylum-seekers, are coming to Libya from sub-Saharan Africa on well travelled mixed migration routes. Some are being detained as illegal immigrants, though many are people of concern. Others have risked the dangerous sea crossing to southern Europe.

Displacement Challenges for Libya

Crisis in Libya

UNHCR is working with the Tunisian and Egyptian authorities and aid groups to manage the dramatic influx of tens of thousands of people fleeing Libya. By the beginning of March, two weeks after the violence erupted in Libya, more than 140,000 people had fled to the neighbouring countries, while thousands more were waiting to cross. Most are Egyptian and Tunisian nationals, though small numbers of Libyans and other nationalities are managing to escape. UNHCR is particularly concerned about thousands of refugees and other foreigners trapped inside Libya, especially people from sub-Saharan Africa. The following photo essay gives a glimpse into what is happening at the borders.

Crisis in Libya

UNHCR Syrians KhomsPlay video

UNHCR Syrians Khoms

The end of a long, silent journey: Two Eritreans in Libya Play video

The end of a long, silent journey: Two Eritreans in Libya

Two Eritreans set out on a perilous journey to Europe, crossing Sudan and the Sahara arriving in Libya during its 2011 revolution. They arrive in Tripoli having avoided the risks of detention and despite contending with a crippling handicap: both David and his wife Amitu are deaf and mute.
Libya: Cost of WarPlay video

Libya: Cost of War

Sirte was heavily damaged during last year's fighting.