Ikea has announced its plans to start selling a whole new range of rugs and textiles made by Syrian refugees starting 2019. Elaborating on the reason behind this initiative, Jesper Brodin, a managing director at the Swedish furniture giant, said that that he hopes this move will help contribute to what he calls “a major tragedy of our times”.
“The situation in Syria is a major tragedy of our time, and Jordan has taken a great responsibility in hosting Syrian refugees… We decided to look into how Ikea can contribute.”
The company has also announced that these Rugs and Textiles will be part of a limited edition run and will be sold locally in Jordan and in other middle eastern markets that have free trade agreements with Jordon.
Ikea’s latest initiative is expected to create jobs for over 200 Syrian refugees who are currently living in Jordon and most of whom are women. The company has announced that it is currently in the process of making arrangements with local women’s issues organizations so that they can get their project up and going. According to a report by the United Nations, Jordon has accepted over 655,000 Syrian refugees up to this point, of which almost 37,000 have been granted work permits. It is however estimated that there are many more Syrians who work without permits.
There has always been a low rate of employment among Syrian women. Most of these woman were traditionally focused on the task of taking care of the children and maintaining their homes. Ikea have said that they are working with local organizations to make sure that the working hours are flexible enough for the women refugees who have families to take care of.
Ikea was one of many companies that denounced President Trump’s decision to temporarily ban refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries. Of these seven countries, an indefinite ban has been imposed on Syria and the total number of refugees that will be accepted into the United States for the fiscal year of 2017, has been capped to 50,000. The company’s decision to employ Syrian refugees in Jordon to make rugs and textiles, however, predates Trump’s travel ban. Ikea had responded to Trump’s decision by making a statement on Tuesday.
“We support the fundamental rights of all people, and do not accept any form of discrimination.”
Ikea’s country manager for the U.S., Lars Petersson, had also penned a letter to all of the company’s employees, assuring them that the company was committed to helping all of its employees who were affected by the Travel ban by any means necessary, including free legal advice and mental health counseling. He further wrote:
“Any proposal that would discriminate against a certain group of our customers or co-workers, or limit our ability to attract and retain diverse talent is troubling. Our IKEA values clearly tell us that leadership is taking action and standing up for what we believe in. That is why we are committed to continuing to stand for the dignity and rights of everyone.”
This isn’t Ikea’s first initiative to help refugees in Syria. The company had collaborated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) last year to design a flat-pack refugee shelter, for which it received the pretigious “design of the year” award in the Beazley competition. These shelters were then sent in their thousands to different crisis points around Europe where refugees were they helped the refugees survive the freezing winter.
The company has also previously donated over $33.3 million to refugee camps in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, for lighting and renewable energy projects.
Another campaign by Ikea, where it had recreated a Syrian apartment in a Norway branch of the company, helped Norwegian families see what it was like for a refugee back home. The campaign helped raise over $24 million for the Red Cross in Syria.
[Featured Image by Artem Avetisyan/Shutterstock]