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Ikea's New Project Will Create Jobs For Syrian Refugees

The company plans to employ Syrian refugees living in Jordan to produce a new line of handwoven rugs and textiles.

02/02/2017 4:28 AM AEDT | Updated 02/02/2017 4:35 AM AEDT

Swedish furniture giant Ikea wants to create jobs for Syrian refugees with its new series of handwoven rugs and textiles set to roll out in 2019. 

Production of the limited line will be based in Jordan, which has accepted more than 655,000 refugees since war broke out in neighboring Syria in 2011.

The project is expected to create roughly 200 jobs for refugees and locals, Jesper Brodin, a range and supply manger for Ikea, told the Financial Times.

“The situation in Syria is a major tragedy of our time, and Jordan has taken a great responsibility in hosting Syrian refugees,” Brodin told CNN Money. “We decided to look into how Ikea can contribute.”

The multinational corporation plans to first sell the goods in Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries that have free-trade agreements with Jordan, before possibly expanding sales into other regions.

Ikea has aligned itself with a number of projects that have benefitted Syrian refugees.

In January 2016, the company announced it had raised over $33 million to provide light and renewable energy sources to refugees living in camps across the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Ikea’s partnership with the U.N. to develop a safer and more durable refugee housing unit dubbed the “Better Shelter” won the company two major 2016 design awards from the Design Museum of London.

Lars Petersson, Ikea’s U.S. country manager, called President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration “so troubling” in a note sent to employees on Monday. Peterson’s memo promised free legal advice to any employee affected by the controversial order, which indefinitely blocks Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. and temporarily restricts immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries.

“Any proposal that would discriminate against a certain group of our customers or co-workers, or limit our ability to attract and retain diverse talent is so troubling,” Peterson wrote. “We are committed to continuing to stand for the dignity and rights of everyone.”

Ikea joins several major corporations that have come out in support of refugees in the wake of Trump’s travel ban. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced on Sunday that the company would hire 10,000 Syrian refugees in its stores across the world over the next five years. Airbnb is providing free housing to “refugees and anyone not allowed in the U.S.,” co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky tweeted Saturday. Google also pledged Saturday to donate $2 million to a “crisis fund,” with the hope that employees would raise $2 million more, to benefit organizations that provide services to those affected by the executive order.

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