On World Refugee Day, we are celebrating the success of the Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign to light up refugee camps—making them safer, better places for children and families.
Every parent knows how important light is for a young child when they’re scared. Knowing you can switch on the light, and see that you’re safe, brings great comfort.
That was Yunnis and Fatima’s experience when they fled the fighting in Syria, with their three young children. The family ended up in the Azraq camp in Jordan where, at first, people had no streetlights or lighting in their homes. Our Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign has lit up the camp, bringing a sense of safety and security.
“The streetlights and solar lanterns have changed our lives,” said Yunnis. “The children feel safer as they can identify the animals making the noises in the night. They don’t fear the monsters anymore, so they are not so scared to go outside at night.”
Syrian refugee Yunis (L), talks with a UNHCR staff member in his family’s shelter in Azraq Refugee Camp, Al Azraq, Jordan.
Solar farm in Jordan
The campaign raised €30.8 million to help the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) bring renewable energy and education to refugee camps in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
As well as providing streetlights and solar lanterns, it is paying for a six megawatt solar farm in Azraq refugee camp, home to over 30,000 Syrians. It will provide the majority of the camp and local community’s energy needs.
It is also supporting UNHCR projects in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Kenya, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Chad and Ethiopia to bring renewable energy to over 160,000 homes and light up streets, schools and clinics.
A group of IKEA co-workers is currently visiting one of the refugee camps supported by the campaign, as part of the IKEA Foundation’s IWitness Global Citizen programme. They are there to see for themselves how the campaign is changing lives for the better. You can read about their trip next week on the IWitness blog.
Better life for refugees
As well as the campaign projects, we have recently added several new partners and programmes that support refugee families:
- War Child’s e-learning programme, Can’t Wait to Learn, which gives refugee children in the Middle East and Sudan a quality education in maths and literacy, and supports their well-being.
- The world’s first university programme for people living in a refugee camp, run by Kepler, which enables talented refugees in Kiziba camp in Rwanda to get a U.S.-accredited degree.
- Humanity on the Move, a global project that uses TV, radio and videos to change perceptions about refugee children and families.
- RefugePoint, an organisation which helps thousands of urban refugees in Nairobi, Kenya get back on their feet by providing food, education, medical and counselling services. It also helps them become self-reliant by providing training and support to set up small businesses.
- The What Design Can Do Refugee Challenge, which called on designers and creative thinkers to find new ways to support refugee families in towns and cities.
Show your support for refugees and sign up to UNHCR’s campaign #WithRefugees, by adding your name to a petition calling on governments to stand in solidarity with refugees. UNHCR will deliver the petition at the UN General Assembly in September, during an historic meeting about the large movements of refugees and migrants.