Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh – At least once a year, the Asian elephants living in southern Bangladesh migrate eastwards, passing through the forest that straddles the border with Myanmar.
Because this area is sparsely populated, the elephants usually encounter little trouble beyond a few run-ins with local farmers when their crops are trampled.
Now, however, the world’s largest refugee camp sits in the middle of their migration path.
Since August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled their native Myanmar amid a violent crackdown by the Myanmar army. A mostly Muslim minority, they have been persecuted for years.
To donate and contribute to refugees, please go to www.allmercy.org
While around 300,000 Rohingya were already living in Bangladesh, having fled Myanmar during other crackdowns in the 1970s and 1990s, the most recent exodus is of an unprecedented scale.
In a matter of weeks, much of the forest in the border area, between the towns of Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf, was torn down and replaced by a sea of tarpaulin shelters.
Now home to around one million people, the Rohingya refugee camps are densely populated. Problems include disease, overcrowding, a lack of sanitation and vulnerability to natural disasters.
The sudden emergence of a camp in what was once forest has also created problems for local wildlife. Perhaps no animals have been more affected than the elephants.
“This camp didn’t happen gradually,” says Raquibal Amin, Bangladesh representative for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), “there was no time for elephants to adjust.”
Apr 10, 2019Along the edge of the largest camp sheltering Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, hundreds of men and women with shovels and wicker baskets are turning a barren hill into a parking lot-sized plateau. The newly leveled land will eventually hold new stronger shelters for refugees from overcrowded parts of the camps. Under the direction of engineers […]
Mar 22, 2019
Mar 21, 2019