May 24, 2013

Feature Story

Donation of 2,000 Compact Solar Lights to Refugees in Kenya Through UNHCR

Panasonic has donated 2,000 compact solar lights to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representation in Kenya. A ceremony for the donation was held on May 16 at the UNHCR Representation in Japan, attended by relevant people such as Johan Cels, UNHCR's Representative in Japan, Shinji Kubo, Deputy Representative, and Takanobu Himori, Executive Director of the Japan Association for UNHCR.

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    Johan Cels, UNHCR's Representative in Japan(Left)
    Michiko Ogawa, General Manager of the CSR & Citizenship Group, Panasonic(Right)

Michiko Ogawa, General Manager of the CSR & Citizenship Group, Groupwide Brand Communications Division, explained as the representative for Panasonic the background to the donation and the products. "The two refugee camps where these compact solar lights will be used are home to more than 600,000 people. We heard that the camps face a multitude of problems due to their increasing population, such as a shortage of space, water and health facilities, as well as worsening hygiene. The 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) will also happen to be held on June 1 this year to discuss the various development issues affecting the African nations, so we hope that the compact solar lights we have donated here will help lift the safety and quality of life of those living in the camps from the perspective of assuring human security," she stated.

Johan Cels, the UNHCR Representative in Japan, expressed his gratitude in response by stating "With the diverse needs within the refugee camps, this aid from Panasonic is a highly significant act in terms of assuring human security, education and medical treatment. It comes at the perfect timing just prior to TICAD V, for which I am very thankful." The UNHCR also gave a letter of appreciation to Panasonic.

The donated solar lights will be used in two refugee camps in Kenya (Dadaab and Kakuma). The people living at these camps have been unable to return home for over twenty years, living as refugees in Kenya. Dadaab refugee camps, neighboring Somalia in the northeast of Kenya, were set up at the beginning of the 1990s to consist of three camps to host 90,000 refugees from Somalia. However, the number of refugees has swelled to reach 430,000 currently living in five camps. Kakuma refugee camp is located near the border with South Sudan in the northwest of Kenya, and was also established in the early 1990s to receive some 20,000 refugees from Sudan. The number has risen to over 110,000, made up of refugees from fifteen different countries, of which, nearly a half is the Somalis, followed by the South Sudanese, Sudanese and Ethiopians. UNHCR Representation in Kenya endeavors to promote legal protection of refugees and provides comprehensive refugee assistance programmes.

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    A Hospital in Kakuma Refugee Camp
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    Scene of Newly Arrived Refugees Living Inside the Camp

This donation is a part of the 100 THOUSAND SOLAR LANTERN PROJECT being promoted by Panasonic. This project aims to solve social problems in the emerging and developing nations by donating compact solar lights to areas without electricity within these countries. Starting in FY2012, it hopes to donate 100,000 solar lights by 2018, the centennial anniversary of Panasonic's founding. Donations have already been made in Myanmar and India, but this is the first in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Panasonic will continue its corporate citizenship activities utilizing its technology, products and solutions in emerging and developing nations in Asia, Africa and other places with large numbers of people living without electricity, engaging in activities helping to contribute to sustainable development and achievement of the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

  • About 100 Thousand Solar Lantern Project

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