Support for the Victims of the Japan Earthquake with 1,794 Solar Lanterns

Project location: JAPAN, Miyagi
Project start date: May 2011 - Project end date: May 2011
Project number: 2011-01
Beneficiary: UNHCR

UNHCR is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide.
Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees, 80% of whom are women and children. UNHCR strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country.
In more than five decades the agency, that has been awarded the Nobel Prize twice, has helped people restart their lives. Today, a staff of around 6,650 people in more than 116 countries continues to help 34.4 million people.
Furthermore UNHCR is often faced with a sudden emergency requiring an immediate response. That means the agency must be able to rush aid and experts to the affected zone without delay. At any given time, UNHCR has the capacity to respond to a new emergency impacting up to 500,000 people. The agency can also mobilize more than 300 trained personnel within 72 hours. Providing fleeing civilians with emergency help is often the first step towards their long-term protection and rehabilitation.

Solar Power lights are among the items that UNHCR has developed and tested on several camps in Africa to improve refugee lives and reduce criminality and exposure to risks for women and girls. Most of the camp in Africa lack illumination which represents a big problem in terms of security as well as of environmental impact, being fire wood the only source of light and heating.
Solar lights reveal to be particularly needed today in a developed Country as Japan to face the current challenge of electricity cut caused by the earthquake and the tsunami which devastated the Country on the 11th of March.

On March 11th, Japan was struck by the most powerful earthquake to hit the island nation in recorded history.
The 8.9-magnitude temblor, which was centered near the east coast of Japan, killed hundreds of people, caused the formation of 30-foot walls of water that swept across rice fields, engulfed entire towns, dragged houses onto highways, and tossed cars and boats like toys. Some waves reached six miles (10 kilometers) inland in Miyagi Prefecture on Japan's east coast.
The idea of submitting a funding request to Nando Peretti Foundation raised from the recognition of the high sensitiveness always shown by the Foundation towards the needs of the most vulnerable people in the world, those affected by public or natural disasters.
The Government of Japan Emergency Management agencies are leading the response to the consequences of the natural disaster through the Emergency Response Team headed by the Japanese Prime Minister. In an expression of support and solidarity with the people and the Government of Japan, the High Commissioner offered UNHCRs assistance. In response, the Government of Japan has requested the urgent delivery of solar lamps to be sent to Narita airport from where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be coordinating the onward transportation of the solar lanterns.

The solar lantern have been developed and tested by UNHCR to improve refugee protection through the introduction of new technologies. In particular they are currently used in several refugees camps with the double aim of improving security in camps (of women and girls in particular) and of reducing the environmental impact of refugees.

The Nando Peretti foundation award a grant for this project, providing the people of the disaster affected area of Miyagi with 1,794 solar lanterns. In view of the ongoing electricity difficulties suffered by Japan, solar lamps distribution will alleviate the current problems of Japan population through the introduction of innovative technologies already tested by UNHCR in situation of lack of electricity and illumination.

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