Since the start of the civil war, almost five million Syrians have fled their homes. Most have ended up in neighbouring countries – Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon – where they live among their host communities or in refugee camps.
According to a recent UNHCR study, Jordan hosts the second largest number of refugees relative to the size of its population with 89 refugees for every 1000 inhabitants.
There are well over half a million Syrians (655,000) registered with the United National High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in the country. The vast majority (80%) live in the local community and the remainder in refugee camps. Over three quarters (78%) are women and children. Nearly all (93%) live below the poverty line.
IKEA has launched an initiative that it hopes will help – by providing jobs. Partnering with local non-profit organizations, the Swedish furniture giant plans to start a line of textiles and rugs made by Syrian refugees, mostly women, working alongside Jordanians.
“After shelter and basic needs are taken care of, the next thing is really how to integrate people into society,” explained Jesper Brodin, IKEA's head of range and supply in an interview.
“The products will be a mix of local artisans’ and IKEA’s knowledge of design, as well as regional designers,” he said, adding: “It’s to create something new that our customers can be excited about and that people can be proud of.”
IKEA aims to launch the collection in 2019, with the first group starting work in September 2017. Initially the products will be sold in the Middle East but in the future could reach the shores of the EU.