Cox’s Bazar: The Rohingyas living in Kutupalong camp joined a peaceful procession in several areas of the huge refugee settlement on Tuesday marking the International Day for Biological Diversity, reports UNB.
The procession, joined by hundreds of Rohingyas volunteering as Elephant Response Team (ERT) members at the huge Kutupalong refugee site, was arranged on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the annual global event.Volunteers held placards and banners, including some shaped as elephants, with slogans reading: “Elephants are the Friends of Nature”, “Save Wildlife, Save Nature” and “Let’s Make the World a Greener Place”.
Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammad Abul Kalam, Country Representative of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Raquibul Amin, UNHCR Environment Officer Ehsanul Hoque as well as officials from the Bangladesh Forest Department joined the volunteers.
At a meeting after the rally, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Kalam praised IUCN and UNHCR for their joint project aimed at reducing incidents involving elephants coming into conflict with refugees.
“To protect us, to survive...we need forests, we need animals. We must understand how important this biodiversity is. Elephants are also part of this bio-diverse ecosystem and should be respected”, he added.
Part of the project includes training volunteer Rohingya refugees as Elephant Response Teams (ERTs) to guard the refugee settlements.
The project will also work with the local host community.Since the Rohingya refugee influx into Bangladesh last August, there have been at least 13 deaths resulting from human-elephant incidents in the main Kutupalong-Balukhali refugee settlement.
The highly congested Kutupalong refugee site, which houses around 600,000 refugees who fled Myanmar, used to be forest land but is now crowded with tens of thousands of refugee shelters and services.