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.
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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.”
Sep 23, 2020The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Thomas Andrews, has questioned Myanmar for not fulfilling its commitment over Rohingya repatriation. “Where is justice for those stranded in refugee camps in Bangladesh while facilities are constructed on their homeland for the same military that stands accused at the International Court of […]
Sep 01, 2020