How Ikea Is Helping Syrian Refugees

January 31st 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

Thanks to President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration, the U.S. has stopped admitting refugees, casting a spotlight back on the millions of Syrians who have fled the worst war of the 21st century.


More than 500,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring Jordan alone, and now furniture company Ikea has plans to help some of them with jobs. According to CNN, the company will offer 200 Syrian refugees, most of them women, jobs making rugs that it will begin selling in 2019.

"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," Jesper Brodin, a managing director at Ikea, told CNN. 

Carpets and rugs.

Last spring, Jordan made a push to get more refugees work permits by temporarily waiving the usual fees. CNN reports that about 37,000 permits have been issued for Syrian refugees so far.

Ikea isn't new to work with refugees, winning (alongside the United Nations) the Beazley Design of the Year Award in January for designing a refugee shelter made of recyclable materials. 

Syrian refugees in Turkey have also made rugs. 

That refugees can provide for themselves by making rugs is not a new idea. At a 10,000 person refugee camp in Turkey in 2013, camp managers provided an instructor and gave Syrian women the materials to make their own rugs. The training allowed women to sell the rugs through Turkish companies for a percentage of the sale price. 

“This [work] helps us forget trauma, like losing relatives, or to stop thinking all the time about the children still in Syria," refugee Rula Qasim said in a UN press release.

Jobs saved Jewish refugees.

As Nazi Germany rose, Ernest Leitz II, a Leica camera manufacturer, used Jewish apprentices so he could transfer them to his factory in New York, thereby saving them from the Holocaust. Oskar Schindler, whose is portrayed by Liam Neeson in the Steven Speilberg move "Schindler's List," also saved hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust by giving them jobs in his factories. 

"In October 1944, after the SS transferred the Emalia Jews to Plaszow, Schindler sought and obtained authorization to relocate his plant to Brünnlitz (Brnenec) in Moravia, and reopen it exclusively as an armaments factory," the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum writes. "One of his assistants drew several versions of a list of up to 1,200 Jewish prisoners needed to work in the new factory. These lists came to be known collectively as 'Schindler's List.'"

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