OBS gifts refugees with building materials and solar panels

By Gloria Nakiyimba

United Nations High commission for Refugees-UNHCR has received a donation of prefabricated modular materials from Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), the Broadcasting arm of the International Olympic Committee.

The materials including walls, windows, ceilings and floor will be used by UNHCR  to construct 50 housing units,  in Arua, Moyo and Yumbe

OBS also donated a solar power system to UNHCR.   Some of the unites will  be donated to the local police personnel responsible for the provision of security for refugees in the settlements, while others will help to  expand limited office facilities of the Office of the Prime Minister and of UNHCR in a bid to enable staff to improve the management of services in these remote locations.

In addition to the housing units, OBS has donated 16 sea containers which were used to transport broadcast equipment required for the Games which have been modified into houses, providing additional shelter facilities .

The materials were originally used to create TV/radio studios and office space inside the International Broadcaster Center, the hub of the broadcasting operation, for the recent 2018 Olympic Winter Game in PyeongChang, South  Korea, as well as in Rio 2016.

The donation is part of OBS’s broader aim to promote recycling of the usable construction material and offer sustainable, easy to maintain and healthy dwelling places where they are needed the most.

“ Being able to achieve our own sustainability objectives, while at the same time contribute to the vital work being done in Uganda, represented a unique opportunity for us. We are proud that our work from the Rio and PyeongChang Games will go on to have a whole new life, serving those who truly exemplify Olympic values.” said Yiannis Exarchos, CEO of OBS.

The solar power system donated by OBS has been installed at Midigo government hospital in Yumbe which serves more than 1,400 patients every week.  About  10 per cent of theses patients are  refugees.

The system will provide better lighting and improve service delivery, which was previously solely dependent on generator power.

According to Yiannis, the donation is an expansion of the International Olympic Committee’s campaign “Become the Light” aimed at providing sustainable, solar-powered lighting solutions. The IOC is working closely with UNHCR to expand the campaign to refugee camps globally.  

He noted that inspired by the Olympic values of solidarity, OBS is eager to align our operational goals with projects that promote assistance and well being in areas with the greatest need.

Uganda is currently hosting 1.4 million refugees, fleeing fighting in their home countries. Majority of these refugees are coming in from the troubled Democratic Republic of Congo.