For the first time ever, refugee craftspeople will be selling their products at Ambiente, the leading international consumer goods trade show held in Frankfurt, Germany from 9-13 February 2018 in an initiative supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Egypt, according to a press release by the agency.
Refugees from Syria, Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia have brought together their traditional skills, motifs and stories to create unique culturally blended products.
“Their skills were enhanced through training provided by the NilFurat project, one of UNHCR Egypt’s livelihood projects, and further supported with the help of many local volunteers, designers and professors from the German University in Cairo,” said the release.
NilFurat is a creative initiative by UNHCR Egypt that brings together culturally diverse refugees with Egyptians living in the area of Hadayek El-Maadi in Cairo with the ultimate aim of promoting community cohesion, economic empowerment and the inclusion of women.
The initiative is currently expanding its access to the global marketplace with the support of “Yadawee,” an Egyptian social enterprise that specializes in promoting and exporting high quality handicrafts from Egypt.
“Refugees have skills and talents that simply 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.
The refugee display at the trade fair is the result of MADE51, a new initiative by UNHCR and a global network of social enterprises to assist talented artisans fleeing war or persecution to achieve greater self-reliance and access the global marketplace.
MADE51 also aims preserve cultural heritage and indigenous crafting techniques that might otherwise be lost through the displacement of peoples and their integration into new economies.
Refugees involved in the initiative are paid market prices, as earning a fair living is considered key to helping displaced individuals rebuild their lives.
“It is only through such 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.