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IKEA helps design new type of shelter for refugees

June 26, 2013 at 9:57 AM   |   Comments

ALMHULT, Sweden, June 26 (UPI) -- The Swedish furniture company IKEA said it has joined with the United Nations' refugee agency to design and build a new type of shelter for refugee families.

Temporary housing in refugee centers often has a life span of only six months, TheLocal.se reported Wednesday, but refugees stay in the camps for years and the shelters often don't meet their needs.

"Quite frankly the tents have not much evolved over the years -- they still rely on canvas, ropes and poles. They are hot during the summer and cold in winter," said Pierre Olivier Delarue of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

A prototype of the new shelter, equipped with insulation and solar panels, which provide enough electricity for lighting, is being tested in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, the IKEA Foundation said in a statement.

Families at the test site will be able to provide feedback about the shelter and the refugee agency and IKEA will make the necessary changes, officials said.

The IKEA Foundation said it has has donated $4.5 million to the project.

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