BAKU, 6 May 2019 – An event celebrating 15th anniversary of the humanitarian aid missions of the Japanese Fuji Optical Company to Azerbaijan took place today with participation of high-level government officials, parliamentarians, as well as representatives of the United Nations, other international organisations, civil society and the media.
Deputy Prime Minister Ali Hasanov, UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam Isaczai, Chairman of Azerbaijan’s State Committee for Refugees and IDPs Rovshan Rzayev, Japan’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan Teruyuki Katori, Chairman and CEO of Fuji Optical Co. Ltd. Dr. Akio Kanai spoke at the UNHCR- organised event.
The Japanese private company of Fuji Optical Co. Ltd. has conducted humanitarian missions to Azerbaijan every year since 2005. During such missions, Japanese optometrist specialists conduct eye-check for internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and other vulnerable people and distribute free of charge eyeglasses to them. All missions have been led by the Doctor Akio Kanai, who is the winner of the 2006 Nansen Refugee Award and many other prestigious awards.
More than 2.8 million USD have already been spent by Fuji Optical Co. Ltd. during its humanitarian missions to Azerbaijan. Around 59 thousand pairs of high quality optic eyeglasses and other items have been brought to the country as in-kind donation to the UNHCR operations in Azerbaijan. In total, more than 31 thousand vulnerable individuals have benefited from free of charge vision screening services rendered during the missions.
This year, Fuji Optical Co. Ltd. has donated 3,300 pairs of eyeglasses and other vision and hearing aid items to UNHCR and intends to screen about 2,400 IDPs, refugees and asylum-seekers during the six-day vision tests and eyeglasses distribution which will take place from 7 to 13 May 2019 in Yevlakh, Goranboy and Baku. As in previous years, UNHCR Representation in Azerbaijan is in liaison with the central and local authorities in order to ensure the necessary conditions in place for the provision of the mentioned services.
Fuji Optical Co. Ltd. is also one of the significant private donors of UNHCR. Apart from the consistent in-kind donation by delivering optometric services and dispensing eyeglasses to UNHCR’s persons of concern since 1983, the Company also supports UNHCR’s global operations with un-earmarked cash allocations. The company has committed to donate UNHCR 3 million USD and started to transfer since 2013.
The prize money given to Dr. Akio Kanai as the Nansen Refugee Award in 2006 was donated by him back to UNHCR. That amount was spent to fund a water supply project for the Khojavend IDP community temporarily settled in Beylagan region. Furthermore, the prestigious “Yomiuri Shinbun International Cooperation” award in the amount of 5 million Yen (approximately 44 thousand USD) given to Dr. Akio Kanai by the Japanese Yomiuri newspaper was donated by him to the Azerbaijani Social Development Fund for IDPs in 2018. The donation was spent to purchase an agricultural machinery to be used by the IDPs who returned to the Jojug Marjanli village of Jabrayil.
Humanitarian efforts made by the Japanese Fuji Optical Co. Ltd. through its Vision Aid Mission to Azerbaijan have always been highly appreciated by UNHCR, Government of Azerbaijan, as well as by the communities which benefitted from the assistance. These efforts demonstrate understanding and sympathy towards the displacement challenge faced by Azerbaijan and the work of the UN.
UNHCR is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action, in cooperation with national authorities, to protect and find solutions for refugees worldwide.