The Ikea Foundation has donated $62m (£38m) towards the relief effort in East Africa.

The furniture giant’s charitable arm has donated the money to help thousands of people at the world’s largest refugee complex in Dadaab, Kenya.

The donation will be staggered over three years and is expected to help up to 120,000 people – almost a quarter of the population of Dadaab. It is the largest private donation the UN refugee agency has received in its 60-year history.

“This humanitarian gesture by the Ikea Foundation comes at a critical time,” said António Guterres, UN high commissioner for refugees. “The crisis in the Horn of Africa continues to deepen with thousands of people fleeing Somalia every week.”

Dadaab, which lies in a remote region of northeast Kenya and was first opened in the early 1990s, has this year seen a dramatic surge in new arrivals as a result of the conflict and drought in Somalia.

Originally designed for 90,000 people it is now home to 440,000 people, 150,000 of whom have arrived in the last months alone, putting strain on those living and working there.

Per Heggenes, chief executive of the Ikea Foundation, said: “This initiative is a bold but natural extension of Ikea Foundation’s longstanding commitment to making a better everyday life for children and families in need throughout the developing world.”