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UNHCR marks World Environment Day 2004

Briefing notes

UNHCR marks World Environment Day 2004

4 June 2004

Tomorrow, June 5, is World Environment Day. Along with the UN Environment Programme, UNHCR will mark the day by raising awareness about environmental issues linked to refugee operations.

In a number of field operations, the refugees and UNHCR will hold special events for World Environment Day. In Tanzania, in two camps hosting Burundi refugees, dances, theatre and music will focus on environmental protection and awards will be given to refugees who have made extra efforts to protect the environment and promote environmental awareness among their fellow refugees. Dadaab camp in Kenya held a camp-wide cleanup campaign, while in Ethiopia, activities include camp cleanups, tree planting, sports competitions between "Roots and Shoots" environment clubs, and environmental awareness awards. Similar cultural events and tree plantings will take place in camps in Zambia, alongside events in the capital. In Liberia, awareness raising campaigns are going on in schools and in camps for internally displaced persons. At UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, a special exhibition on our work on the environment has been on display this week, and includes an exhibition of new parabolic solar cookers currently being tested in two refugee camps in Kenya.

UNHCR has made a strong commitment to safeguarding the environment around its programmes. These efforts strengthen the protection of refugees and our activities on the ground by addressing environmental concerns and reducing the impact of refugees on the local environment and local communities. The relationship between environmental management, refugees and host communities is extremely sensitive. Implementing sustainable environmental management maintains the safety and dignity of refugees and helps uphold the institution of asylum.