Ikea's Latest: Refugee Shelters
Company's philanthropic arm plans major upgrade from tents
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2013 1:18 PM CDT
The prototype of the new refugee shelter from the IKEA Foundation.   (UN Refugee Agency)

(Newser) – It sounds like the set-up to a really bad joke—the world's refugees are going to start using shelters from Ikea. But the idea actually has the potential to do a world of good, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The shelters from the Ikea Foundation, the furniture maker's philanthropic arm, will be tested for the first time next month in southeastern Ethiopia. If they pass muster under the region's harsh conditions, they will be rolled out on a wider basis, potentially providing refugees a significant upgrade from the current mode of shelter used by millions the world over—tents.

The shelters have hard panels for better protection from the elements, a solar panel to provide electricity, and can be set up and taken down without tools. If they go into wide production, the shelters shouldn't cost much more than a standard tent, but they'd last about six times longer, reports the Monitor. (Ikea promises to make the final design available to other companies for commercial production.) "The new shelter has the potential to provide a more dignified temporary housing solution to refugees," says a UN official. "Essentially it could be a temporary home until people are able to return to their place of origin." (The news comes as the UN releases a report that found there was a new refugee every 4.1 seconds in 2012.)

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Jun 19, 2013 11:01 PM CDT
Could be great for glamping!
Jun 19, 2013 10:01 PM CDT
These would also be great for housing the homeless.
Jun 19, 2013 3:03 PM CDT
By the description, these temporary structures will be superior to the housing available to locals in many of the areas to which refugees flee. Tents aren't used solely because of cost and transportation reasons, but also because they are clearly temporary and define the refugees stay as temporary. Very bad situations result from providing refugees with better, possibly permanent, accommodations than their neighbors in the host country.