Dutch lottery helps refugees in Nepal combat global warming

News Stories, 3 February 2006

© UNHCR/R.Beusker
UNHCR's Director of External Relations Anne-Willem Bijleveld receives a cheque for one million euro's from the Dutch Postcode Lottery's managing director Ellen Damsma.

AALSMEER, Netherlands, 3 Feb (UNHCR) Global warming is a worldwide concern, whether for Bhutanese refugees in Nepal or Dutch consumers in their homes. A unique project, launched in the Netherlands on Friday, is bringing these two groups and many others together to help meet the challenge.

A special campaign supported by UNHCR and the Dutch Postcode Lottery (NPL), one of the refugee agency's main private-sector donors, is raising the question of where people can start doing something about global warming. The answer? Here, in their own environment whether the Netherlands, or any other place in the world.

To demonstrate this, several organisations have developed projects with financial support from the NPL to combat global warming and raise awareness in the Netherlands of the problem

"All the participating organisations, whether they deal with ecological, development, or humanitarian issues like UNHCR, are joining forces to show that people can make a difference, whether it's about saving energy in your home or planting trees in Africa," says Geert Wijnhoven, manager of the "Here" campaign.

For UNHCR, part of the solution to global warming lies in seven refugee camps in Nepal, where over 100,000 ethnic Nepali refugees sought refuge after their eviction from Bhutan in 1990.

Together with its Dutch NGO partner Stichting Vluchteling, UNHCR is helping the refugees to build solar ovens so they no longer have to burn scarce wood for their cooking. This project, to which the NPL contributes 720,000 euros, will help reduce deforestation, carbon dioxide emissions and the use of costly kerosene.

Besides support for the joint project in Nepal, the NPL has given UNHCR a contribution one million euros for use in any of its programmes. The announcement was made at a special meeting of the NPL with its 50 beneficiaries in Aalsmeer in the Netherlands.

"We are most grateful for the National Postcode Lottery's ongoing support to UNHCR, which helps us to go on helping refugees around the world," Anne-Willem Bijleveld, UNHCR's director of external relations, said on receiving a symbolic cheque from the NPL's managing director Ellen Damsma.

At the event, the NPL the top private fundraiser for charity in the Netherlands announced a total of 210 million euros in contributions to its beneficiaries.

The UN refugee agency's partnership with the NPL started in 2003, when it first became a beneficiary. The National Postcode Lottery also supports other organisations that help refugees and asylum seekers such as Stichting Vluchteling, the Dutch Council for Refugees, and the University Asylum Fund that assists student refugees and asylum seekers in the Netherlands.

By Diederik Kramers in Aalsmeer, Netherlands