UNHCR forms taskforce to protect Rohingyas from wild elephants

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DHAKA, Mar 3, 2018 (BSS) – UNHCR, in association with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has formed a taskforce to save the Rohingyas from the attacks of elephants in their camps in Cox’s Bazar.

UNHCR and its partner IUCN launched the action plan as several wild elephants, following their usual migratory path, wandered into the Rohingya camps, damaging shelters and injuring their occupants, said an official of UNHCR.

Earlier, at least 10 people, including women and children, were killed in Kutupalong settlement by stampeded of elephants.

The taskforce will work with the local host community and in close consultation with the Bangladesh Forest Department and the Relief and Repatriation Commissioner’s Office.

The mitigation plans include installing watch-towers in the key spots around the settlement, as well as setting up Elephant Response Teams who can sound the alarm if elephants enter the site.

Under the plan, elephant routes and corridors will be clearly marked, so that people will know which areas to avoid. Campaigns will also be carried out to create better awareness of the risks.

The highly congested site, which used to be forest land, lies along one of the migratory routes between Myanmar and Bangladesh for critically endangered Asian elephants.

“This partnership is critical not only to ensure the conservation of elephants, but to protect, a number of whom have tragically already lost their lives,” said Kevin Allen, UNHCR’s head of emergency operations in Cox’s Bazar district.

The project is part of a wider initiative by UNHCR and the IUCN to mitigate some of the environmental impacts linked to the establishment of settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Allen added.

Other plans include carrying out environmental education and awareness among the host communities about the importance of forest resources as well as taking steps to improve the environment in the settlement areas and nearby surroundings.

The project leaders will also advocate for reforestation programmes to ensure that natural resources and a shared environment are better protected.

BSS/Spl/PSB/GA/1805 HRS

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