The United Nations Environment and its main partner from the private sector, Kuwait’s Al-Sayer Holding, implemented today a first-of-its-kind initiative in one of the largest Syrian refugee camps in the northern town of Bibnine, Akkar- known as Al-Rihayniyeh camp. The initiative entailed equipping the camp with solar energy that allowed lighting the tents and external walkways, and providing access to hot water inside the camp.
A delegation including representatives from the UN Environment, the UN Information Centre in Beirut and Kuwait’s Al-Sayer Group, the main funder of the initiative, carried out a field visit today to Al-Rihaniyeh camp to survey the project and assess its implications on people’s lives. Refugees expressed their gratitude to this initiative that helped provide them with basic services allowing them to overcome their sufferings, especially children, with regards to the use of cold water, and the injustice that threatened their health and security.
After a tour of the camp, UN Environment Regional Director Iyad Abumoghli commended the strategic partnership with Al-Sayer Group that is a cornerstone for the service of man and the environment. He said that this initiative is the fruit of a partnership between the UN Environment and the private sector to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, and specifically those related to reducing the repercussions of poverty and crises on the dignity of people. Abumoghli underscored the generosity of Kuwait’s Al-Sayer Group, which provided funding for the project and oversaw the implementation of the project with the UN Environment.
“This is why we are here today in Lebanon and in Al-Rihaniyeh camp, which groups around 1000 Syrian refugees, mostly children, women and elderly, living in difficult circumstances without access to hot water or lighting inside and outside the camp. This is hindering their movement inside the camp, exposing children to many dangers and leading to the spread of diseases due to the inability to meeting health needs,” Abumoghli said. He added, “We all wish for the war to end and for the safe return of refugees to their country and land to restore their full rights; however, we cannot stand idle in the face of their humanitarian situation. We took the initiative to improve their health and living conditions in a clean and environmentally-sound manner.”
For his part, Chief Executive Officer of Al-Sayer Franchising (Imtiyazat), Hamad Al-Sayer, said that in line with the naming of his Highness the Kuwaiti Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad as Humanitarian Leader and Kuwait as Humanitarian Center, Al-Sayer Group Holding has chosen to offer something unique and sustainable to meet the needs of Syrian refugees in Al Rihaniyah camp. He added that this initiative goes hand in hand with Al-Sayer Group Holding’s policy of being leaders in sustainable economies. “Throughout its history, the Group has been keen to provide assistance to those in need in coordination with the United Nations Environment and the Union of Relief and Development Associations in Lebanon,” Al-Sayer said.
He added that the initiative is divided into three stages: The first stage entails equipping all tents with solar lighting systems and this has been accomplished. The second stage includes providing all public utilities with solar water heaters, and this will alleviate the sufferings of children, women and the elderly during the cold season. And the third stage includes erecting solar lighting poles to light the walkways and the vicinity of the camp. This will be achieved once things settle down.
Al-Sayer thanked all partners in this initiative include the UN Environment and the Union of Relief and Development Associations, as well as the special team who had worked for months with great enthusiasm and professionalism to achieve this initiative.
Also from Al-Sayer Holding, Nihad Al-Hajj Ali, said the solar lighting system will spare the government at least 10,000 watts on daily basis and will reduce CO2 emissions in the area. He added that solar water heaters allow to heat up to 10,000 liters per day, and spare a large amount of electricity and diesel that would have been used for the same purpose. He expressed hope all Arab countries will resort to clean and renewable energy.
The UN Environment will also seek to widen the scope of this initiative to include in the future the entire hosting village. The agency believes that this initiative will positively reflect on the camp’s neighboring area in terms of safeguarding the health of the inhabitants, preventing the spread of diseases and boosting security by lighting the camps. This initiative also has a positive effect on the Lebanese economy since it uses clean energy.
It is worth mentioning that the UN Environment will also carry out other projects in Lebanon, including its contribution to resolving the garbage crisis by introducing recycling projects and other plans to reduce pollution.