Greening refugee camps for World Environmental Day – UN

6 June 2005

The United Nations refugee agency observed World Environmental Day with worldwide activities that focused on minimizing the environmental damage caused by refugee camps.

The United Nations refugee agency observed World Environmental Day with worldwide activities that focused on minimizing the environmental damage caused by refugee camps.

The theme of the UN environmental day this year is “Green Cities – Plan for the Planet.”

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has adapted it to: “Green your Camps – Improve Natural Resource Management and Plan for the Planet.” The Day was celebrated yesterday, 5 June, in San Francisco, California and around the world.

“Refugees’ impact on the environment can have an important bearing on the willingness of host states to continue to grant asylum,” Assistant High Commissioner Kamel Morjane said. “In extreme cases, the competition for natural resources can turn local communities or governments against refugees and threaten the very institution of asylum.”

To prevent this from happening, UNHCR has been running a wide range of projects in its camps worldwide to mitigate the impact of refugees on the environment, Mr. Morjane said.

For example, in eastern Chad, which hosts over 200,000 refugees from Darfur, tree seedlings are being distributed for refugees to plant. In many camps, stoves are being distributed that reduce the use of firewood. In others, clean-ups are being instituted.

To highlight such programs, UNHCR offices around the world yesterday held demonstrations of sound environmental practices, camp clean-ups, games, competitions and cultural events.

 

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