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Fuji Optical and UNHCR improving vision for refugees in Armenia

Fuji Optical and UNHCR improving vision for refugees in Armenia

12 August 2003

Over a period of six days in late July 2003, a total of 912 persons, including 748 refugees and 164 locals, underwent eye examinations and received eyeglasses under the Vision Screening Project of Refugees in Armenia carried out with the support of UNHCR's corporate partner, Fuji Optical Co. Ltd (Japan).

In 1984 Fuji Optical Co. Ltd. (Fuji Optic) began donating pre-made eyeglasses, ophthalmic frames, hearing aids and medical equipment for vision testing through UNHCR and its implementing partners to refugees in Asia, in particular Thailand. Since then, their donations have continued on a yearly basis, and since 1997, the main beneficiaries have been needy refugees in Armenia who fled Azerbaijan in the early 1990s.

During 2002, Fuji Optic donated and delivered 2,000 pairs of pre-made eyeglasses and 1,000 pairs of ophthalmic frames to refugees in Armenia. The eyeglasses were distributed through the national non-governmental organisation, Mission Armenia (MA), and the State Department for Migration and Refugees (SDM). The project was managed through UNHCR's existing programmes.

Within the framework of this project with UNHCR, Mission Armenia established medical posts at communal centres inhabited mostly by refugees. The refugees were notified of Fuji Optic's donation and assistance at these posts, where eventually medical personnel carried out a screening process and organised the distribution of the eyeglasses.

The beneficiaries were mostly elderly women living in isolated parts of the country, as well as women heading single-parent families. These two groups represent the most vulnerable of the refugees from Azerbaijan. Additionally some children and other underprivileged adults were screened and fitted with eyeglasses.

For almost two decades now, Fuji Optic has provided the means for improving the vision of thousands of refugees. In Armenia, notably, their donation had an impact on the day-to-day lives of certain refugees, enabling them to carry out basic daily tasks that had previously been very difficult. This enhanced the quality of their lives as they were able to resume a more normal working and social life.

These consecutive years of eyeglass donations by Fuji Optic have allowed the vision requirements of the most vulnerable refugees living in communal centres in Armenia to be fully met. This project illustrates what can be achieved when the private sector and UNHCR work together in an effort to improve the daily lives of refugees around the world.