Swedish furniture giant IKEA partnered with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and to design housing solutions for some of the 60 million refugees across the world — the largest group being the who've been forced to leave their homes due to the . So far the UNHCR has ordered 10,000 for people in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East — and after learning more it's clear why.
Each shelter features a steel frame, doors with a lock (critical to help protect women and children from ), ventilations, windows, and 6-foot-tall roofs lined with solar panels. They can also be assembled on site without any additional tools in four to eight hours with the final product offering 57-square-feet of living space (enough room for a family of five).
While the smart homes are pricier than the UNHCR tents that are typically found at these sites ($1,150 each, to be exact) they're twice the size and last for three years — which is six times longer than the average tent. It's also a major quality of life improvement according to Johan Karlsson, an industrial designer who designed the shelters and told that the average stay in an UNHCR refugee camp is 17 years.
He also said the tents typically fall apart after a few months so they wanted to create something that's built to last: "Obviously the situation is complex and goes far beyond shelter. This is just a tiny part of humanitarian aid, but it's an important one when it comes to allowing displaced people to live with dignity."
Here's a look inside one of the shelters:
The thoughtful details and protective features are aimed to help make life just a little safer and easier for displaced persons — but they're also still a striking representation of how refugees are suffering worldwide. If you want to contribute to the cause you can donate .