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Wood huts to replace Ikea refugee shelters

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Wood huts to replace Ikea refugee shelters
One of the new wood huts. Photo: City of Zurich
09:48 CET+01:00
The city of Zurich plans to house asylum seekers in 62 chipboard huts to replace Ikea refugee shelters that it rejected last week after they failed a fire test.

The chipboard structures will be assembled by employees of a local company between now and New Year's Day to house up to 250 people, the city announced on Tuesday.

Last Friday, Zurich city councillor Raphael Golta unveiled a large hall filled with dozens of Ikea ready-to-assemble Ikea shelters.

But just a few hours later authorities were forced to announce that the partly plastic shelters did not live up to Swiss fire protection requirements following a safety test.

The city scrambled over the weekend to find replacements for the Ikea shelters, which cost 1,200 francs apiece.


The wood replacements will cost more than three times as much — 3,800 francs ($3,000) each, including labour costs, the city's social welfare department (ADF) said in a news release.

The huts, which meet Swiss fire safety requirements, will be erected in Hall 9 at Zurich-Oerlikon, where a transition centre for asylum seekers is set to open on January 4th, the department said.

The units with 17.5 square metres of floor space can be assembled in about an hour, ADF said.

They will be erected on the same wooden bases used for the Ikea shelters and have the same mass so will be furnished in the same way as initially planned, the department said.

The fate of the Ikea “Better Shelters” remains unclear.

The city said that various people have offered to buy them but due to the poor fire test results resale has been waived.

The canton of Aargau, which planned to use 200 Ikea shelters for an emergency asylum seeker centre, has cancelled the project because of the Zurich fire test results.

The shelters were developed by Ikea, the Swedish furniture and furnishings chain, in conjunction with the UN High Commission for Refugees.

AFP reported that they have been used by the thousands in refugee camps and in countries like Greece that are facing a heavy influx of immigrants.

The city of Zurich said it had relied on safety information from the UNHCR and a Swedish study.

But the city had requested a new test after learning that a German report last week raised concerns about the accuracy of the Swedish study.

UNHCR spokeswoman Anja Klug told Swiss news agency ATS on Friday that the organization was preparing to compare the Swiss and Swedish safety test results.

Switzerland is expecting to receive 39,000 asylum applicants this year, up from 23,800 in 2014.

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