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Ikea Is Providing Tents for Syrian Refugees

After a series of delays, Lebanon has (somewhat reluctantly) agreed to start accepting state-of-the-art tents from Swedish furniture maker Ikea, to be used to house Syrian refugees. The philanthropic arm of Ikea partnered with with the U.N. refugee agency to develop the Ikea Refugee Housing Unit, which is made from durable materials, utilizes solar lights and even offers insulated panels. But until now, according to Time, Lebanon refused to accept any of the trial tents, essentially, so that refugees wouldn’t get too comfortable.

The country is home to many of the more than 2 million Syrians who have been forced to flee their villiages amidst a brutal civil war, but with limited infrastructure, officials have been hesitant to establish formal refugee camps. Instead, they’ve wanted the Syrians to integrate into local communities and find traditional housing. But with an estimated 125,000 living in makeshift tents, and with a harsh winter approaching, the country is finally allowing the U.N. to bring in some of the Ikea tents for testing. A professor from Harvard who specializes in disaster management told Time that though the tents offer a better housing solution than what the refugees have now, it shouldn’t discourage others from finding ways to help them. “The risk now is that we will see photographs of 50 Ikea shelters set up for the Syrians, and we think, ‘OK, they are all fine, we can think about something else.’ The houses are better than tents, of course, but the families are far from fine” …

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