Bangladesh carving out forest land to shelter desperate Rohingya

October 5, 2017 | By | Reply More

Hard-pressed to find space for a massive influx of Rohingya Muslim refugees, Bangladesh plans to chop down a swathe of forest to extend a tent city sheltering destitute families fleeing ethnic violence in neighboring Myanmar.

Bangladesh carving out forest land to shelter desperate RohingyaMore than half a million Rohingya have arrived from Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine since the end of August in what the United Nations has called the world’s fastest-developing refugee emergency.

The exodus began after Myanmar security forces responded to Rohingya militants’ attacks on Aug. 25 by launching a brutal crackdown that the United Nations has denounced as ethnic cleansing.

But it has left Bangladesh and international humanitarian organizations counting the cost as they race to provide life-saving food, water and medical care for the displaced Rohingyas.

Simply finding enough empty ground to accommodate the refugees is a huge problem.

“The government allocated 2,000 acres when the number of refugees was nearly 400,000,” Mohammad Shah Kamal, Bangladesh’s secretary of disaster management and relief, told Reuters on Thursday.

“Now that the numbers have gone up by more than 100,000 and people are still coming. So, the government has to allocate 1,000 acres (400 hectares) of forest land.”

“People in Cox’s Bazar are concerned, we are also concerned, but there’s nothing we can do but accommodate them.”

The pressure on the land is creating another conflict, this time environmental rather than ethnic.


U.N. agencies coordinating aid appealed on Wednesday for $434 million to help up to 1.2 million people, most of them children, for six months.

Their figure includes the 509,000 who have arrived since August, 300,000 Rohingya who were already in Bangladesh, having fled earlier suppression, a contingency for another 91,000 and 300,000 Bangladesh villagers in so-called host communities who also need help.

The Save the Children aid group warned of a malnutrition crisis with some 281,000 people in need of urgent nutrition support, including 145,000 children under the age of five and more than 50,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women.

U.N. agencies are wary of planning beyond six-months for fear or creating a self-perpetuating situation.

Myanmar has promised to take back anyone verified as a refugee but there’s little hope for speedy repatriation.

Press journalist for HRO media – Ignacio Damigo reports.

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Category: International

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