Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Jordan's Azraq becomes world's first clean energy refugee camp

Jordan's Azraq becomes world's first clean energy refugee camp

The U.N. refugee agency has switched on a newly built solar power plant to serve 20,000 Syrian refugees in the remote Azraq camp in Jordan's desert.

The solar plant allows UNHCR to provide electricity to the 20,000 Azraq camp residents for free, and the families in the camp can now connect a fridge, a TV, a fan, have light inside the shelter and charge their phones, which is critical for refugees to keep in contact with their relatives overseas, the spokesman said at a daily news briefing here.

For more than two years, Syrian refugees living in the camp - located in Jordan's barren northern desert - were reliant on portable solar lanterns to light their homes and had no way of preserving food or cooling their shelters in the desert heat. Electricity was introduced to Azraq in January.

Mr Clements praised the plant as "a remarkable example of cooperation" between the government of Jordan, private solar company Mustakbal and UNHCR. Each family will be able to light its home, refrigerate its food, and charge its phones, which is very important for refugees to keep in touch with their relatives overseas.

For each LED light-bulb sold during the campaign period, the IKEA Foundation donated 1 euro to UNHCR to bring renewable energy and education to refugees.

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Be Civil - It's OK to have a difference in opinion but there's no need to be a jerk. Once it is upgraded from 2-megawatts to 5, it will cover all the refugee camp's needs.

Mohammad, 20, from the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, was one of those who worked to build the frames that support the solar panels and installed the plant's electrical circuits.

The plant will be connected to the national grid and any surplus electricity generated will be sent back for free.

The plant's capacity is to be more than doubled to provide power to all residents, for an eventual cost of $9.7 million (8.75 million euros), the United Nations refugee agency said. "Once again the partnership between IKEA Foundation and UNHCR has shown how we can embrace new technologies, innovation and humanity while helping refugees." . "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".

Providing renewable energy sources to refugees and their host communities is one of the priorities for UNHCR globally, the organisation says, and it relies heavily on partnerships with global companies like IKEA.

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