Out of horrible situations can come stories which are slightly less horrible. The UN Refugee Agency revealed this week that the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan, home to 36,000 Syrian refugees fleeing unimaginable horror, is now being powered by solar energy, and will be able to supply solar power to all refugees by early next year.
The Azraq refugee camp, located south of the Syrian border in Jordan, near the small town of Azraq, is home to Syrian refugees fleeing the horror and death of their homeland. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in its press release announcing the news that the camp is now generating solar power, explains that the solar power grid will “be expanded to all 36,000 refugees currently residing in the camp by early next year.” At the time of writing there is some confusion over whether the press release’s stated 36,000 is a number that will be in effect “by early next year,” or whether the UN’s own current numbers of refugees of nearly 54,000 is the correct number of refugees.
Nevertheless, on Wednesday the Jordanian refugee camp switched on a 2 megawatt (MW) solar PF plant which will now provide electricity to 20,000 Syrian refugees living in almost 5,000 shelters, covering the energy needs of the two villages connected to the national grid. The project was funded by IKEA Foundation’s Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, and is now providing basic comforts and commodities for the refugees.
“Today marks a milestone. Lighting up the camp is not only a symbolic achievement; it provides a safer environment for all camp residents, opens up livelihoods opportunities, and gives children the chance to study after dark. Above all, it allows all residents of the camps to lead more dignified lives,” said Kelly T. Clements, UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner. “Once again the partnership between IKEA Foundation and UNHCR has shown how we can embrace new technologies, innovation and humanity while helping refugees.”
The solar farm will provide savings of $1.5 million a year for the camp, and will reduce CO2 emissions by 2,370 tonnes per year. It cost €8.75 million, and was entirely funded by the IKEA Foundation out of the €30.8 million it has raised for UNHCR projects.
“The world’s first solar farm in a refugee camp signals a paradigm shift in how the humanitarian sector supports displaced populations. UNHCR Jordan will save millions of dollars, while reducing carbon emissions and improving living conditions for some of the world’s most vulnerable children and families,” added Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation. “We are very grateful to everyone involved—especially the IKEA customers and co-workers who took part in the Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, the UNHCR, the Jordanian government, EDCO, and most of all, the Syrian and Jordanian people who made this project a reality.”