A Place to Call Home (For Now): United Nations Rolls Out New High-Tech Refugee Shelters Inspired by IKEA'S Flat-Pack Design

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A Place to Call Home (For Now): United Nations Rolls Out New High-Tech Refugee Shelters Inspired by IKEA'S Flat-Pack Design

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Inspired by @IKEA's Flat-Pack Design, UN rolls out high tech #refugee shelters http://3bl.me/c3bvwz @Refugees @Justmeans

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As the world undergoes the worst refugee crisis in almost two decades, the IKEA Foundation, the United Nations and Refugee Housing Unit have teamed up to make the lives of refugees safer and more comfortable 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 9:00am



(3BL Media/Justmeans) -- According to the latest annual Global Trends Report, released last month by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are an estimated 7.6 million people newly displaced due to conflict or persecution, including over a million new refugees (the highest annual number since 1999) and another 6.5 million newly displaced within their own countries (the second highest figure of the past ten years).  

There are more than 45.2 million refugees, an increase of almost 3 million from 2011, with the crisis in Syria being a major contributor to the increased displacement. Even more distressing is the fact that children below the age of 18 make up 46 percent of all refugees, with a record 21,300 asylum applications submitted in 2012 coming from children separated from their parents.  

It is against this harrowing backdrop that a new collaboration has emerged to help improve refugee housing, which has remained unchanged for six decades. For the past two years, the IKEA Foundation has orchestrated a unique partnership with the UNCHR and Refugee Housing Unit (RHU), a subsidiary of the Swedish non-profit foundation SVID (Stiftelsen Svensk Industridesign), to develop a new prototype refugee shelter inspired by IKEA's famous "flat-pack" design, which can be easily shipped and assembled.   I had a chance to ask RHU project manager Johan Karlsson, UNHCR Innovation head Olivier Delarue and IKEA Foundation CEO Per Heggenes some questions about this innovative cross-sector initiative.

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Reynard is a Justmeans staff writer for Sustainable Finance and Corporate Social Responsibility. A former media executive with 15 years experience in the private and non-profit sectors, Reynard is the co-founder of MomenTech, a New York-based experimental production studio that explores transnational progressivism, neo-nomadism, post-humanism and futurism. He is also author of the blog 13.7 Billion Years, covering cosmology, biodiversity, animal welfare, conservation and ethical consumption. He is currently developing the Underground Desert Living Unit (UDLU), a sustainable single-family dwelling envisioned as a potential adaptation response to the future loss of human habitat due to the effects of anthropogenic climate change. Reynard is also a contributing author of "Biomes and Ecosystems," a comprehensive reference encyclopedia of the Earth's key biological and geographic classifications, to be published by Salem Press in 2013.