A refugee camp in Azraq city of Jordan became the first refugee camp in the world to be powered by solar energy. The camp, which houses around 20,000 refugees from Syria and other war-torn areas, in 5,000 shelters, is now able to power a refrigerator, fan, television set, light bulbs and also makes it possible for the people to charge their phones. For the refugees living in the camps, the rechargeable batteries are an useful means to stay connected to friends and families.
“The situation was before what can I say. We would not stay up. We’d stay up until 7 pm and then go to sleep like chickens. But now we’re staying up until 2 or 3 am in the morning with presence of the electricity,” Badrea alJarbah, one of the refugee from Homs city of Syria, told Doha-based media platform Al-Jazeera.
The world’s first solar-powered refugee camp. pic.twitter.com/RBIIl76Mji
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) June 18, 2017
“We used to make simple things that we could with our hands, not all the desserts we have now. Now with the availability of electricity, we are making all the types of sweets that we have available now,” Ahmad Abu Rukbeh, a refugee who owns a dessert shop in the camp was quoted by Al-Jazeera.
According to reports, Ikea Foundation helped the authorities managing the refugee camp to raise funds for the development of the solar plant. The ‘Brighter lives for refugees’ campaign by the Foundation donated 1 euro to UNHCR each time an LED light bulb or lamp was sold. The total cost of the solar plant is approximately estimated to be around €8.75m.
“This is the first time ever that we inaugurate a solar farm in a refugee camp. It’s a paradigm shift in a way, when you think about how all of us can support the humanitarian sector, in support of the displace people,” Per Heggenes, IKEA CEO, said to reporters. The solar plant allows UNHCR to save 1.5$ million in a year, according to a video released by UNHCR.