Refugee-made products on display for first time ever at the world’s biggest trade fair


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is pleased to announce that for the first time ever refugee-made products will be on display at Ambiente, the leading international consumer goods trade show, from 9-13 February 2018, in Frankfurt, Germany.

“Refugees have skills and talents that only need a chance to grow and flourish. Within each piece lies a story of history and culture, and the chance for a person who has fled war and persecution to offer something of beauty and style to the world,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

Twelve product lines created by refugee artisans and craft people from Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Iran, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Syria will be presented at the fair.

This breakthrough is the result of MADE51, a new initiative by UNHCR and a global network of social enterprises to help talented makers fleeing war or persecution achieve greater self-reliance and access to the global marketplace. MADE51 also helps keep traditional crafts alive, preserving cultural heritage and indigenous techniques that might otherwise be lost.

Working and earning a living is key to bringing some stability to displaced people and helping them rebuild their lives. Refugees involved in the initiative are paid market prices.

“It is only through sales that these refugee artisans will be able to employ their skills and earn income. By including refugee-made products in their sourcing plans, retailers and brands have a vital role to play. They can be part of the solution,” added Grandi.

At Ambiente, potential buyers can view and order a variety of products, including:

● bowls and jewellery created by Malian Tuareg refugees

● cashmere throws, embroidered bags, block-printed scarves, lampshades and soft furnishings crafted by Syrian refugees

● wall hangings and basketry woven by Burundian refugees

● complex pile rugs, wool kilims and embroidered home textiles created by artisans who have returned to Afghanistan

● scarves and bags hand-dyed by South Sudanese and Somali refugees

● smoked bamboo lighting and embroidered jewellery made by refugees from Myanmar

Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees