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Yazidi refugees assist in turtle release from Dolphin Marine Conservation Park

Yazidi refugees assist in turtle release from Dolphin Marine Conservation Park
March 21, 2019

The Dolphin Marine Conservation Park has shared details of the release of five green sea turtles after months of rehabilitation from Coffs Harbour’s Arrawarra Headland last weekend.

While the release of the turtles was an example of the valuable rehabilitation and conservation undertaken by the Dolphin Marine Conservation Park, the story of the volunteers - the Abdo sisters - involved in the work was also significant.

The sisters - Zaree, Khishkok, Zozik, Kurdistan and Sabeeha - are Yazidi women from Kurdistan in Iraq, who came to Australia as refugees in 2017 due to the ongoing threat of ISIS in their region.

The rise of so-called Islamic state saw almost 7000 Yazidi women were enslaved, their children taken and forced to fight for ISIS, while their the men were slaughtered - leading the United Nations to declare the massacres of the Yazidi population as an act of genocide.

As a minority group in the region, their numbers are small and the constant assaults they have suffered may well impact on the ongoing sustainability of the population.

Today, there are still many Yazidi members unaccounted for.

The Abdo sisters come from a family of 12, the majority of whom are still in Iraq, with one sister in Germany and they have no other family members in Australia.

As advised in a statement from Dolphin Marine Conservation Park “the Coffs Harbour region has been working hard to offer refugees such as the Abdo sisters a safe and friendly alternative from their previous traumas and as all but one of the sisters are deaf, they are enjoying learning Auslan (sign language) and have communicated that their favourite thing about Australia is that people smile and talk to you on the street, which did not happen in Iraq.

“They like the beach though they haven't learnt to swim yet and getting into the water was a big step for them, given that a community member recently drowned in Woolgoolga.”

Giving the sisters a helping hand on the weekend were the staff from Dolphin Marine Conservation Park and the newly created ‘EcoGroms’, who are a group of primary school aged children with an interest in the environment.

On the agenda for the EcoGroms is everything from waste management within schools; education programs about our rock pools; and helping out Dolphin Marine Rescue with the rehabilitation and release of sea turtles.

Saturday morning saw the merging of ages and cultures, with both the Yazidi women and the EcoGroms communicating to each other with the international sign for “thank you” following the turtles release.

Formerly known as Dolphin Marine Magic and before that the Pet Porpoise World, the attraction was rebranded as the Dolphin Marine Conservation Park branding earlier this month.

Images: Last weekend's green sea turtle release at Coffs Harbour’s Arrawarra Headland (top) and the Abdo sisters and the EcoGroms (below). Courtesy of Dolphin Marine Conservation Park.

Related Articles

19th March 2019 - Coffs Harbour’s marine attraction ends breeding dolphins in captivity

1st March 2018 - Coffs Harbour’s Dolphin Marine Magic looks to offshore sea pens for cetacean exhibits

15th April 2017 - Coffs Harbour dolphin attraction facing court for ‘misleading’ animal welfare claims

9th May 2016 - Campaign looks to new law to end dolphin captivity in NSW

20th November 2015 - Islamic State jihadists target major venues in terror campaign

10th August 2015 - Rebranded Dolphin Marine Magic continues as the only dolphin attraction in NSW

6th August 2015 - Events to attract visitors to the Coffs Coast

9th March 2015 - Islamic State militants bulldoze ancient Assyrian city Nimrud

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