Corporate partners announce projects with UNHCR at annual Clinton Global Initiative meet

News Stories, 25 September 2009

© Photos CGI
Former US President Bill Clinton celebrates the announcement of the Community Technology Access project with senior UNHCR and Microsoft officials.

NEW YORK, United States, September 25 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency and two of its corporate partners have announced technology-based projects that will help improve the lives of tens of thousands of refugees in Africa and Asia.

The announcements by UNHCR, computer technology giant Microsoft, and Portugal's largest energy company, EDP, came earlier this week at the annual meeting in New York of the Clinton Global Initiative. The project with Microsoft will give refugees in 11 countries access to computers, while EDP will bring renewable energy solutions to benefit some 50,000 people in north-west Kenya's Kakuma Refugee Camp.

The Community Technology Access (CTA) project, launched in partnership with Microsoft and PricewaterhouseCoopers, will allow refugees to use computer technology for education as well as business and livelihoods purposes.

Three pilot CTA centres, using solar power and providing rugged PC solutions and Internet access, are being built at refugee camps in Bangladesh and Rwanda. Under the second phase of the project, starting in 2010, a further 19 centres will be established at camps in nine more countries.

"The project shows that we recognize ICT [information and communications technologies] as being a crucial resource for facilitating knowledge and education, particularly in remote areas where teachers and education resources are scarce," said Olivier Delarue, UNHCR's senior corporate relations officer, who attended the New York event on Thursday.

Pamela Passman, head of Microsoft's Global Corporate Affairs section, said the CTA programme addressed the challenges of making technology work in remote and rugged refugee camp situations. "This provides not only a platform for improving education, it is also a path to developing valuable workforce skills for adult refugees."

In a separate announcement, UNHCR and EDP on Wednesday unveiled a project to bring renewable energy solutions to Kakuma, where high demand for scarce or expensive energy resources such as firewood and kerosene has a huge impact on the camp's sustainability. The partners hope the programme will counter the rapid depletion of natural resources and create lasting personal and social benefits both for refugees and neighbouring communities.

EDP will help UNHCR install solar panels, improved diesel generators and solar ovens, while supporting social entrepreneurship and reforestation schemes that will reduce energy costs at the same time as helping to improving refugees' health, living conditions and livelihoods. The project should yield valuable lessons for UNHCR as it examines the role of climate change in forced displacement.

UN High Commissioner António Guterres, who was at the Wednesday event, welcomed the two projects. "We believe that providing access to technology, particularly in remote areas, can help restore some of the stability these people had known as well as providing crucial access to education and livelihood opportunities, in particular for refugee women and girls."




UNHCR country pages


Education is vital in restoring hope and dignity to young people driven from their homes.

DAFI Scholarships

The German-funded Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative provides scholarships for refugees to study in higher education institutes in many countries.

The Continuity Of Risk

A three-city study of Congolese women-at-risk resettled in the U.S.

Stateless in American Samoa: Mikhail Sebastian's Story

Mikhail Sebastian is a stateless man who has been living in the United States for more than a decade-and-a-half. In this video, he tells of the hardships he has faced and the importance of providing legal protections to stateless persons in the U.S.

Operational Guidance

Operational Guidance for the prevention of micronutrient deficiencies and malnutrition.

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Chad: Education in Exile

UNHCR joins forces with the Ministry of Education and NGO partners to improve education for Sudanese refugees in Chad.

The ongoing violence in Sudan's western Darfur region has uprooted two million Sudanese inside the country and driven some 230,000 more over the border into 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad.

Although enrolment in the camp schools in Chad is high, attendance is inconsistent. A shortage of qualified teachers and lack of school supplies and furniture make it difficult to keep schools running. In addition, many children are overwhelmed by household chores, while others leave school to work for local Chadian families. Girls' attendance is less regular, especially after marriage, which usually occurs by the age of 12 or 13. For boys and young men, attending school decreases the possibility of recruitment by various armed groups operating in the area.

UNHCR and its partners continue to provide training and salaries for teachers in all 12 refugee camps, ensuring a quality education for refugee children. NGO partners maintain schools and supply uniforms to needy students. And UNICEF is providing books, note pads and stationary. In August 2007 UNHCR, UNICEF and Chad's Ministry of Education joined forces to access and improve the state of education for Sudanese uprooted by conflict in Darfur.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Chad: Education in Exile

Education for Displaced Colombians

UNHCR works with the government of Colombia to address the needs of children displaced by violence.

Two million people are listed on Colombia's National Register for Displaced People. About half of them are under the age of 18, and, according to the Ministry of Education, only half of these are enrolled in school.

Even before displacement, Colombian children attending school in high-risk areas face danger from land mines, attacks by armed groups and forced recruitment outside of schools. Once displaced, children often lose an entire academic year. In addition, the trauma of losing one's home and witnessing extreme violence often remain unaddressed, affecting the child's potential to learn. Increased poverty brought on by displacement usually means that children must work to help support the family, making school impossible.

UNHCR supports the government's response to the educational crisis of displaced children, which includes local interventions in high-risk areas, rebuilding damaged schools, providing school supplies and supporting local teachers' organizations. UNHCR consults with the Ministry of Education to ensure the needs of displaced children are known and planned for. It also focuses on the educational needs of ethnic minorities such as the Afro-Colombians and indigenous people.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Education for Displaced Colombians

A Photo Profile of Nansen Award Winner Edward Kennedy

In recognition of his achievements as a life-long advocate on behalf of the world's most vulnerable people, the recipient of the 2009 Nansen Refugee Award is the late Edward Kennedy. The Senator was a champion for those who suddenly found themselves with no voice and no rights. Year after year, he put the plight of refugees on the agenda and drove through policies that saved and shaped countless lives.

A Photo Profile of Nansen Award Winner Edward Kennedy

Ethiopia: Education, A Refugee's Call to ServePlay video

Ethiopia: Education, A Refugee's Call to Serve

War forced Lim Bol Thong to flee South Sudan, putting his dreams of becoming a doctor on hold. As a refugee in the Kule camp in Gambella, Ethiopia, he has found another way to serve. Just 21 years old, Lim started teaching chemistry at the school's primary school and last year was promoted to Vice Principal.
Lebanon: Refugees Brave Winter in Unfinished BuildingPlay video

Lebanon: Refugees Brave Winter in Unfinished Building

More than half of Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in precarious shelters such as unfinished buildings, garages and shops. Their already difficult conditions are made worse by the winter weather.
Lebanon: US Dream keeps Hopes Alive for Syrian Family 
Play video

Lebanon: US Dream keeps Hopes Alive for Syrian Family

When Syrian refugee Yaser, his wife Amani, and family heard media reports of anti-refugee sentiment among some quarters in the United States, they feared their 18-month wait to find refuge in the country that resettles more refugees than any other could go on indefinitely. But putting their hopes on a new life in the United States, away from the horrors of Syria's war is the refugee family's only way to escape the fear of the past and struggles of the present in Lebanon.