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  • Women's Refugee Commission Honored with Green Star Award for Ensuring Safe Access to Fuel and Energy in Refugee Settings

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    New York, NY, June 1, 2015 – The Women's Refugee Commission (WRC) is proud to announce that we are among this year's winners of the prestigious Green Star Awards, an honor that recognizes environmental heroes working in disasters and other emergencies. The awards, created by the United Nations and Green Cross International, were presented today at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway.

    The Women's Refugee Commission received the award in the Environment and Humanitarian Action category in recognition of our work to reduce the risks associated with the collection of firewood and other sources of household energy.

     "Energy poverty is experienced differently and more severely by women," said Sarah Costa, Executive Director of the Women's Refugee Commission. "A decade ago, our research made clear that women in refugee camps were exposed to unconscionable rates of rape and other violence in the daily collection of firewood to cook a simple meal.

    "We began this work to prevent gender-based violence and we successfully advocated for safe access to energy to be included in the humanitarian agenda," Costa continued. "And what became clear was that energy had multisectoral implications."

    Nearly 40% of the world's population relies on firewood, charcoal, animal dung or other traditional biomass sources for their energy needs and this percentage is undoubtedly much higher for those displaced by violence and conflict.

    In presenting the award, organizers noted, "the WRC's SAFE Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) Initiative...contributes significantly to a holistic approach to humanitarian action by bridging the gap between gender, health and environmental issues in humanitarian settings."

    "It's in the multisectoral approaches that we find not just protection but opportunities for women," said Costa. "Women-led projects that produce sustainable alternatives to firewood can be highly successful, but women need to be in the driver's seat asentrepreneurs."

    The SAFE Initiative combines improved technologies, alternative fuels, sustainable livelihoods, protection interventions and environmental activities to meet the energy needs of displaced populations.

    The Green Star Awards emphasize the connection between environmental risks from disasters and conflicts, crisis-affected populations, and providers of humanitarian assistance. They recognize the achievements of individuals, organizations, government and private enterprises that have demonstrated leadership in preparing for, responding to and reducing the environmental impacts of disasters and conflicts. Held every two years, the awards are jointly hosted by OCHA, the NGO Green Cross International (GCI) and the United Nations Environment Programme.

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    About the Women's Refugee Commission

    The Women's Refugee Commission is the only international organization solely dedicated to protecting the rights of refugee women to sexual and reproductive health care, to an environment free from gender-based violence, and to economic and social empowerment.