The international community has long acknowledged the shocking humanitarian crisis caused by Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya, the country’s largest Muslim minority group.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh as theTamadaw ,Myanmar’s military has torched their homes and tortured their families. However the ecological crisis resulting from this mass migration has received far less attention.
Even so, the consequences matter to Rohingya refugees stuck in Bangladesh just as much as the foreign humanitarian aid on which they have come to depend.Using whatever materials they can find to rebuild a semblance of their past lives and survive in Bangladesh, the Rohingya refugees have put a tremendous strain on the natural environment. They gather wood from forests surrounding the refugee camps,exacerbating, the depletion of already-scarce natural resources. By October 2018, the number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh had reached well over 900,000, speaking to the growing potential for an environmental disaster.
“Refugees often compete with locals for access to freshwater and firewood, among other resources,” said Dr Idean Salehyan, an assistant professor of political science at the University of North Texas.
“We have seen this quite dramatically with the Rohingya population in Bangladesh, but other refugee crises have created similar concerns. Obviously, an influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and the construction of new, large-scale camps will have an impact on the environment.”