A Model Hotel in Vienna Employs Refugees

Vienna is a ritzy and classic city which has seen a lot of history through the rise of the Habsburg family. It’s a city where tourists flock to due to its ornate beauty and opulence.

Magdas Hotel is a hotel in Vienna which has done something unique: it employs refugees while they await their paperwork to be cleared. The hotel crowdfunded support for the program and is now a great model of how to use the talents of refugees who have trouble finding work in their respected fields.

“This building which is now a hotel was once an old people’s home,” Martin Gantner from Caritas told Al Jazeera. It was renovated and charitable donations were used to procure furniture, he said.

“Through crowdfunding, we collected 70,000 euros [$76,000] for the hotel last year,” Gantner said. The organisation uses all the profit from the hotel to pay salaries and buy supplies.

“It is just awful and pointless that refugees remain jobless for years because they legally cannot work, even though some of them are so talented,” Gantner said.

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Building Better Homes for Refugees

Ikea’s charitable arm has used the expertise of the cheap furniture manufacturer to design a better housing unit for refugees with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Hopefully these designs will help people around the world who are living in poor conditions.

The Refugee Housing Unit started working on a project to develop emergency shelters in 2008. Johan Karlsson, Project Manager at the Refugee Housing Unit, recalls: “The Indian Ocean tsunami was still a fresh memory, and ‘Building back better’ was the motto among our humanitarian partners—meaning that humanitarian aid should not only contribute to saving lives, but also to creating sustainable communities after disasters.”

The Refugee Housing Unit realised that, with their design and manufacturing expertise, they had vital skills to contribute to the process. “By adding our and our partners’ knowledge in product design and production, we were certain that we could help humanitarian agencies create a shelter which would represent better value for money and at the same time significantly improve the lives of refugees and displaced people, as well helping communities be more resilient to disasters.”

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Thanks to Shea!

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