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The UN's solar-powered refugees

UN REFUGEE AGENCY HELPS BHUTANESE REFUGEES IN NEPAL SHIFT TO SOLAR POWER

New York, Feb 3 2006 4:00PM

In an unusual partnership announced today, the United Nations refugee agency has linked up with a Dutch fundraising agency to help Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal move to clean energy through solar power.

Armed with funding from the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has Bhutanese refugees building solar ovens so they no longer have to burn scarce wood when cooking their meals. The shift to solar ovens, backed by 720,000(euros) from the Dutch agency, will reduce deforestation and carbon dioxide emissions as well as the use of costly kerosene.

UNHCR's Dutch aid partner, Stichting Vluchteling, a non-governmental organization (NGO), is supporting the project in the seven refugee camps in the eastern region of Nepal.

About 105,000 Bhutanese refugees have been living in Nepal since the early 1990s, making it one of Asia's most protracted refugee situations. The Bhutanese fled their country after the enforcement of a 1985 Citizenship Act made life intolerable for the people of Nepalese ethnicity.

Besides support for the joint project in Nepal, the Dutch Postcode Lottery has given UNHCR a one-million(Euro) contribution. Agency spokeswoman Anne-Willem Bijleveld voiced gratitude for the donation saying it enables UNHCR� "to go on helping refugees around the world."

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news



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