Rohingya Refugee Crisis In Bangladesh : An Environmental Outlook

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The Rohingya population has started changing their destination and coming towards south Asian countries crossing borders, especially in Bangladesh. An estimated 626,000 Rohingya refugees have fled violence across the border from Myanmar into Cox’s Bazar and the Chittagong Hill Tracts since 25 August 2017 (UNDP and UN Women, 2017). This brought huge challenges for Bangladesh including higher environmental degradation. This influx has put a huge impact on local areas and environment like soil erosion, landslides, water crisis, deforestation, air pollution and so on and it is also posing gesture of future environmental catastrophe. To handle Rohingya refugee crisis, Bangladesh government, NGOs, civil society and private sector should play a vital role in the conservation of the environment as experts mentioned this is going to be the unrepairable loss for Bangladesh. Ms. Sumaya Majumder Rinta has prepared this publishable report.

Acknowledgments

Special thanks of gratitude to-

Kazi K Shahidullah, Ph.D
Assistant Professor
Curriculum Development
Bangladesh University of Professionals

2. Bangladesh Army

3. Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB)

4. Bangladesh Police 

5. Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)

6. Bangladesh Coast Guard (BCG)

7. Bangladesh Foreign Ministry 

Contribution

  1. Authors Burnett

2. Kamrazzuman

3. Ruma paul

Author

Ms. Sumaya Majumdar Rinta

Department of International Relations

Bangladesh University of Professionals

ACRONYM

UN– United Nations.

UNDP– United Nations Development Programme.

UNHCR– United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

NGO– Non-Governmental Organization.

WHO– World Health Organization.

FAO– UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization.

RRRC– The Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission.

EETWG -The Energy and Environment Technical Working Group.

IOM– International Organization for Migration.

Refugee Crisis
Ukhiya Rohingya Camp

CHAPTER ONE

This chapter is on the overview of environmental impacts on Bangladesh for Rohingya crisis, identification of the research problems based on research questions, the purpose of this study, the significance of the study and what are the limitations to do this study.

INTRODUCTION

The huge influx of Rohingya refugee has happened in 2017. This influx has put gigantic strain on local areas and the environment. Bangladesh is already facing challenges from social, economic and environmental perspectives. There are security, tourism issues that are also hampering the country’s future. As Rohingya influx has happened mainly in Cox’s bazaar area, the area is now facing so many challenges. The local authority is not being able to manage these huge number of Rohingya population properly. An enormous amount of deforestation to accommodate the Rohingyas. 6,000 acres of land was deforested by the Rohingya camps. (cpd.org.bd). There are Land Degradation, Soil Erosion, Loss of drinking water, Waste management Deforestation, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem, Natural calamities like landslides because of huge numbers of Rohingyas.

Bangladesh is a nation of 160 million people, a standout amongst the most thickly populated on Earth is presently spending more than $1 million daily to maintain its own help and security endeavors. Bangladesh is giving shelters to those brutally persecuted Rohingyas. The locals and the people of Bangladesh are bearing the burdens of Rohingyas despite undergoing extreme poverty. But Bangladesh is facing so many challenges for this Rohingya crisis and that can not be ignored.

Rohingya Refugee camp
Rohingya Refugee camp

I had interaction with stateless Rohingya people and they informed us about their miseries how Myanmar army was torturing and killing them and how they came to Bangladesh crossing the border. They said they do not want to go back to Myanmar if the Myanmar government does not give them their citizenships. They said, how they were deprived of the education, they were allowed to study till class 8. Myanmar army burnt their houses and their legal documents said by Obayedul Mia as Rohingya refugee currently living in Balukhali camp, Cox’s bazaar. But their arrival to Bangladesh brought the problems and threats for Bangladesh, especially the environment.

This study will be focusing on the environment that is being hampered greatly for the crisis. This influx of refugees has made an extra ecological emergency in Bangladesh’s border area. Bangladesh is getting hampered in social, economic and environmental perspectives. The environmental perspective will be explained. How the environmental impacts of the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh caused great havoc and how it is affecting the local people, biodiversity and ecological balance of the area and what Bangladesh government needs to do regarding this matter.

The research problem is identifying the area which the research should focus on. The Rohingya people are stateless people from Rakhine State, Myanmar. The Myanmar government didn’t recognize them as citizens. They were persecuted in their own country. On 22 Oct 2017, the UN reported that an estimated 603,000 refugees from Rakhine, Myanmar had crossed the border into Bangladesh alone since August 25, 2017. This number increased to 624000 by November 7, 2017. They are currently one of the most persecuted minorities in the world (relief-web, 2017).

Bangladesh government has given shelter to persecuted Rohingyas but there are so many obstacles that Bangladesh government is facing. Sometimes it is causing great havoc. Bangladesh is facing a resource problem because of the burden of Rohingyas. The natural resources are also being destroyed for these large number of Rohingyas (bdnews24,2018).

Here the research problem is finding the environmental problems that are being created for the persecuted Rohingya refugees surrounding Rohingya Camps. And how these problems are affecting Bangladesh?  What major initiatives need to be taken from the Government to protect the biodiversity of the affected areas? Is Bangladesh going to face the huge ecological disaster in the near future? Is there the possibility to create an environmental conflict for the crisis? Are the donations are enough from the different organizations and countries enough to deal with the problems? These are the areas of research in this study and the possible solutions to the problems can be taken will be based on these areas.

 Related Literature:

In October of 2017, the Myanmar military started ethnic cleansing on persecuted Rohingyas. They were indiscriminately killing Rohingyas.For surviving about 1.1 million people were fleeing to Bangladesh from their Northern border. Bangladesh is already overpopulated country. But Bangladesh government came forward for their humanitarian sense for those stateless Rohingyas and opened up a massive refugee camp known as Kutapalong in a previously forested section of the country. Many of the 800K+ refugees are cutting down trees for staying warm, cooking foods and earning from the forests around them, but that led to a huge amount of deforestation (Environmental impacts of the Rohingya refugee crisis,2018).

The hillsides are bare after cutting down trees from that area, that could lead landslides at any time when the monsoon period would come (Barrett Welch, 2018) “They have occupied 1,625 acres of forestland in Ukhia and 875 acres of forestland in Teknaf and have chopped down more than one million trees to make way for their huts,” –The forest officer of cox’s bazaar area Ali Akbar said. “Due to the rampant use of fossil fuel, Cox’s Bazaar is already at risk of climate change. The region often routinely witnesses either extreme rainfall or extreme drought conditions. Low-lying areas have already been swallowed by the sea,” – Biswajit Sen, a local environmental activist, said. Rampant deforestation led wildlife to the danger that increased the animal attacks in the region (Rohingya influx,2017).

Purpose of the study:

Here the research purpose is to understand the current situation of Rohingya crisis, know the reason of the influx to Bangladesh, understand the impacts over the environment for the crisis, identify the role Bangladesh government, NGO’s and International Organizations should do regarding Bangladesh environmental problems because of Rohingya Refugee Crisis. The main purpose is to find out the environmental challenges that Bangladesh is facing for the huge influx of Rohingyas to Bangladesh.

Research Questions:

Central Question:

  1. What are the impacts on Environment have created in Bangladesh for the Rohingya refugee crisis?

Sub Questions:

1. What types of environmental problems have created for the crisis?

2. What are the challenges local people are facing for Rohingya in the environmental perspective?

3. What scarcities can be faced by Bangladesh in near future because of the crisis?

*How can government overcome the environmental problems by taking necessary steps?

*What are the role of NGOs and civil society in protecting the environment?

*What can be the sustainable solutions for the conservation of the environment?

Significance of The Study:

Significance of this study is to let people understand the background of the Rohingya crisis, how they became refugees and migrated in another country. This research will help to know the affected areas of the environment of Bangladesh and how the problems can overcome and provide solutions to the government to take necessary steps. The future threat Bangladesh can possibly face, this has been described in this paper.

This research will lead to knowing the areas which have already affected and on which plans need to work on to overcome the problems and provide necessary and sustainable solutions for Rohingyas. This study also could let people know the catastrophe Bangladesh is facing and has the possibility to lose the ecological balance and fail the biodiversity of the areas in the near future. This could bring benefit to society and make people conscious about the environment and also make them raise voice for the protection of the environment.

Limitations:

There are some limitations that could face doing the whole process of this research –facing challenges to visit the Rohingya camp, getting fund from the institution for visiting, challenges for rapport building with local people and refugees ,difficulties to get access of experts in taking interviews, being conscious of asking questions while interviewing, being aware from creating any kind of violation against respondents, less availability of literatures, Same confusing data on several literatures, less time for collecting observational data, limited time frame for completing the whole process.

Related Definition:

Refugees:

According to the UN, refugees are those who are forced to leave their country because of persecution, war, and violence. Who will have the fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, political opinion or membership in a particular group? They can not return to their homes for fear. For getting refugee status they will have the reasons for fleeing from their native country.

Rohingya:

World one of the most persecuted minorities. It’s an ethnic group in Myanmar based on a Muslim majority. The Rohingya speak as Ruaingga. Myanmar government has not given them citizenship. They are called stateless. They don’t have the official identity like other 135 official ethnic groups in Myanmar. They live in the western coastal state of Rakhine and they are not allowed to leave without government permission. Myanmar government and military have been violating Rohingyas’ rights since Myanmar independence. From 1978, Rohingyas started migrating in neighboring countries, they are basically forced, migrants. The rapid influx of Rohingya people happened in Bangladesh in 2017 after the persecution from the Myanmar military on the Rohingya minority. They mostly fleed to Bangladesh. Bangladesh government has not given them refugee status yet officially (ALJAZEERA, 2018).

Refugee Crisis:

This refers to the movement of the large group of displaced people who can be displaced internally, forcefully or other types of migrants. According to UNHCR, a large number of people migrates to safer countries for communal violence, conflict, persecution, human rights violence in their country of origin.

 CHAPTER TWO

This chapter is based on the concept, assumptions, beliefs, expectations, theories and some of the review of the literature.

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

In this study, it first needs to understand the Rohingya refugee crisis, the root of their problems. How they were persecuted in their own land, how they fled to Bangladesh. And that became the challenge for Bangladesh to tackle the refugee influx. This brought a great impact on Bangladesh, especially on the environment. Though there are many benefits for Bangladesh. Bangladesh is being praised in the international arena for their humanitarian sense.

Bangladesh is getting hampered in social, economic and environmental perspectives. In this study, the environmental perspective will be explained. How the environmental impacts of Rohingya refugee crisis on Bangladesh caused great havoc and how it is affecting the local people, biodiversity and ecological balance of the area and what Bangladesh government needs to do regarding this matter.

800 hectares of protected forest land and more than 2500 total hectares are being planned to accommodate the influx of Rohingya in Tecknaf and Ukhiya. The habitat of wildlife is being hampered. There are no proper sanitation facilities and water resources, they are dumping waste here and there that could lead to an ecological disaster in the near future. Air pollution in Ukhia and Tekfnaf has expanded as a result of smoke from firewood burned by refugees from a large number of trucks, jeeps, and cars bringing people and products into the camps.

All of the problems stated above can create an anomaly in our country among the citizens and that can also be a cause of global warming. As a result, the sea level will rise and our existence must be under threat for having such kind of crisis in a secondary way. There could create a huge ecological disaster, wildlife could face a great disaster and landslides can be happening frequently and also biodiversity can be destroyed in the future.

There is a need for a common understanding of avoiding ecological disaster. The government needs to take immediate actions to protect the environment and bring alternative ideas for Rohingyas to live and not to establish Rohingya camps in a major area. There is needed for proper education among Rohingyas for awareness, government, NGO’s workers should take the responsibilities. A coordinated effort from the government and other sectors can avoid environmental disasters. The international community and the UN should give more focus on the Rohingya crisis. A proper plan is needed for overcoming this great problem.

                   There are so many conflicts in the world regarding environmental problems. Bangladesh might face such kinds of problems for refugee crisis if it does not take the necessary steps right now to protect the environment to be destroyed. In this study, this assumption will be analyzed by using Hommer Dixon’s Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict theory. There are three propositions in the theory. Firstly, Supply induced scarcity is caused by degradation and depletion of environmental resources. Secondly, Demand induced scarcity caused by population growth and increased per capita consumption. Thirdly, Structural scarcity by unequal distribution of wealth. This goes with the environmental problem that Bangladesh is facing now. There could be an environmental conflict between refugees and native Bangladeshi people will be measured by analyzing the present context of the refugee-hosting area with the help of the propositions of Hommer Dixon’s theory.

Another theory that can also relate to this topic that is Realism. Bangladesh government has also the national interest that’s why they are bearing all these problems regarding Rohingya. Bangladesh is being praised in worldwide for giving shelters and other needs to Rohingya people, it is also getting a huge amount of donations for international authority. So this can relate to Realism.

Literature Review

These large numbers of refugee camps are causing environmental destruction. This rapid expansion of camps and the destruction of the forest led to ecological disaster and disturbed wildlife habitants. Teknaf  Wildlife Sanctuary, Himchari National Park and the Inani Protected Area are in danger. Firewood collection is a threat to this area that will lead to the destruction of the environment. Soil erosion, agricultural land pollution is happening. The rainwater can not pass for the camps (A precarious environment for the Rohingya refugees, 2018).

There is already a water crisis in Teknaf area. The groundwater is much deeper and the deforestation led to more water crisis in that area. A quarter shallow tubewell water has already dried up. latrines are beside the tube wells and leaking the latrines is polluting the groundwater (Kamil Ahmed,2018)

Deforestation deprived host communities’ access to firewood, timber for housing as well as forest fruits and other non-timer forest products. There should be taken necessary steps like reducing risks and balancing ecosystems and also help them to get proper knowledge. The government should engage them in works, create employment. Immediately restore damaged grounds and hills to facilitate later replanting and slope stabilization (Social Impact Assessment of the Rohingya Refugee Crisis into Bangladesh, 2017).

The report from Bangladesh Forest Department that Rohingya took over 5,013 acres of forest land. They are cutting trees indiscriminately. Total 3,517 acres of forestland in total have been destroyed including 1,199 acres of man-made forests and 2,318 acres of natural forests. In the report ,it is pointed out estimated a total of Tk4,112,862,671 worth of damage including Tk2,138,853,414 and Tk 1,974,009,257 to the man-made and natural forests.That is leading to soil erosion and land sliding possibilities mostly in the rainy season. Government is looking for the low cost of coal (LPG) for Rohingyas for the conservation of the environment. Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) has raised because of Rohingya arrivals in the reservation lands. This is bringing environmental conflict (Anwar Hussain, 2018).

According to FAO, Eight hundred tons of fuel woods are needing every day for Rohingyas. They are collecting green woods also for cooking that is usually unhealthy for a human. local Bangladeshis requested in a petition to the government for compensating them for the lost land said by Kabir a Forest Official. If this continues, the environment of that local area will be devasted. There is needed for sustainable solutions with easing relations of two communities local and Rohingya (Kaamil Ahmed, 2018).

UNDP has pointed about serious impacts of Rohingya crisis on the Bangladesh government as 1.1 million people have come to Bangladesh. In the local area, there is a higher degree of environmental degradation already. UNDP published the report and pointed out six physical impacts and seven risks to the ecosystem and recommended 19 mitigation measures to reduce environmental degradation and restore the lives of Cox’s bazaar area. 4,300 acres forests and hills were cut down and Rohingya people are continuously collecting woods for cooking, repairing their temporary shelters and also for other activities. Up to 4,000 acres of hilly lands area have affected, there was vegetation in the Teknaf-Ukhiya-Himchhari. UNDP is focusing on measures like alternative fuel, solid waste management. There report said to go for sustainable solutions for the conservation of the environment (bdnews24,2018).

45,000 trees and around 700,000 grass cuttings have been planted by Rohingya and local people in Cox’s Bazar to help reverse environmental damage.IOM and FAO projects take initiatives to plant further 36,500 trees and million grass cuttings in upcoming days. The Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC) combined with Bangladesh Forest Department, UN agencies and NGO partners are finding the ways to stabilize soil and replant trees in the local area. According to the Energy and Environment Technical Working Group (EETWG), around 200,000 saplings have been planted by humanitarian agencies. This project will help thousands of refugees and local people for their livelihood and the restoration of the environment (IOM, 2018).

The higher degree of deforestation of cox’s bazaar area is leading towards the rapid environmental degradation day by day. The environment is getting polluted on a larger scale. According to a  report published in the Lancet, a journal produced by The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health that the highest rate of death for environmental pollution happens in Bangladesh. This is a huge threat to Bangladesh (Shafikul Islam,2017).

Cox’s bazaar is the poorest district in the poorest Bangladesh. Because of the Rohingya crisis, this small area is facing lots of problems. Prime Minister of Bangladesh has pointed out the environmental impacts on Bangladesh in the meeting of world leaders in France. She said, for humanity, we gave them shelters but Bangladesh is in danger because of the effect on forest and environment. The ecology and biodiversity of the area are being destroyed day by day. Moving them towards “Char” areas can have brought more problems as those areas are flood-prone (Poppy McPherson, 2018).

CHAPTER THREE

This chapter is on the research approach, methods what design is used to doing the research, instruments that used for collecting data, data collection procedure and about data analysis.

RESEARCH DESIGN

Research Approach:

This paper is made on the Rohingya refugee crisis from Bangladesh perspective, how Bangladesh’s environment is being affected by this Rohingya crisis. The first step was to make drafts of research problems and what issues need to more focus on. Then to find out the existing literature regarding the topic. This is explicit research that is focused on an arena. This is a limited study that does not violate any rules. This is based on literature and expert interviews.

This bounding of the study is consistent with the descriptive qualitative case study design. So, this study has made of qualitative approach data which deals with both primary and secondary data.

Methods:

This study incorporated the paradigm assumptions of emerging design, a context-dependent on information and an inductive data analysis. This is a descriptive qualitative approach case study design presenting the real ground of crisis and collecting data from the interviewees and experts. This study is also focused on assumptions that what possible things could happen in the future because of the crisis. This study is for a limited time frame of about 5 months.

Consistent with case study design, the interviews are taken from the experts who are currently studying and analyzing on Rohingya issue.  Research data is collected from them to know about the new information that is missing in the literature. In interviews,  there were several questions regarding the impacts on the environment because of the rapid influx of Rohingya in Bangladesh. What types of environmental catastrophe Bangladesh could face in the near future because of environmental pollution and What could be the ultimate solutions to come out from these problems and so on.

There were so many obstacles to face in doing research. There had many difficulties to get access to experts in taking interviews and go to a refugee camp. And it needs to be conscious of asking questions while interviewing. There should not be any questions that violate his/her privacy and security. It took time to rapport building with the informants. It was challenging. They were also less availability of literature that it gets difficult to find out the information. There are the same confusing data on several kinds of literature that get difficult to choose among those.

This methodology would help the researchers to analysis and study about Rohingya issue in the future. This research especially focused on the stateless Rohingyas and the impacts on Bangladesh environment because of their arrival in Bangladesh. This research sets multiple methods of data collection including documents, policy, and historical analysis.

Instruments:

Tools are ethnographic and case study research design. The paradigm assumptions of emerging design, a context-dependent on information and an inductive data analysis, Information from expert interviews, Questions asking session, Audio recording, Observational data, Visual materials, and documents collection. This research sets multiple methods of data collection including documents, policy, and historical analysis.

Data Collection Procedure:

As this study is based on qualitative approach data which deals with both primary and secondary data. And some descriptions that have collected from primary data from Rohingya refugee camp and some secondary materials like existing research papers, articles, videos, journals, documents to find out the problems regarding the crisis and its effects on the environment . This process has been chosen because models and variables were not available much. There fewer numbers of books were written on this topic (Creswell,2003,p.47-51).

Observational data, visual materials, and documents are collected from the interviews for data sources and information. The information is noted down from informants.  And then it needs to edit all those quotes and state all the information that is found through literature and observation in the crisis area and then analysis on those findings (Creswell,2003, p.151).

It needs to verify the descriptions and interpretations by taking preliminary drafts and then select information to include in the final study. These drafts will help to prepare a good paper to include more information.

Data Analysis:

The data analysis procedures are making a draft and summarizing of field notes. Qualitative research consists of preparing and organizing data, identifying codes and quotes and state those. Contextualize in the framework from literature. Representing data in figures, tables or a discussion. Taking notes, displaying table and charts. Creating a point of view for theoretical perspectives. Analyzing the findings. Verify the descriptions and interpretations by taking preliminary drafts.

This study is for a limited time frame of about 5 months. The interviews are taken from the experts who are currently studying and analyzing on Rohingya issue and also working on the Rohingya camp.  Research data is collected from them to know about the new information that is missing in the literature. In interviews, there were several questions regarding the impacts on the environment because of the rapid influx of Rohingya in Bangladesh. What types of environmental catastrophe Bangladesh could face in the near future because of environmental pollution and What could be the ultimate solutions to come out from these problems and so on.

 

CHAPTER FOUR

This chapter is about the research results and findings that are collected from data regarding the study.

RESULTS AND FINDINGS

 Rohingya refugees are coming to Bangladesh since the 20th century but the rapid influx of Rohingyas happened in 2017 (reliefweb, 2017). This influx brought huge environmental imbalance with larger impacts in other areas too. This has become a large concern for Bangladesh. The government had to allocate 1,000 acres of forest land for Rohingya refugees by cutting trees and making their shelters. The huge people are creating pressures on land that is bringing the threat to the environment.

The forest in cox’s bazaar was the reserve forest where wild elephants were used to living in but now because of the huge influx of refugees, elephants are losing their home and they are becoming wild and attacking people as the forests are being destroyed (Ruma paul, 2017). And the muddy of that area is prone to landslides as hills were cut down for sheltering Rohingyas (Poppy MCferson,2018). In monsoon period it could be more threatful for them. Because of firewood burning, air pollution is increasing day by day. Almost 500 lakh kgs firewood is burning every day in the camps for cooking  (Shafikul Islam, 2017). The sun heat of the area has raised more than before. The water crisis has been increasing day by day. The water level is getting lower, refugees are not getting water for their livelihood. The soil erosion is another environmental threat for that area because of the huge uprooting of trees.

In cox’s bazaar, 45,000 trees have been planted for repairing the loss of the environment. The UN Migration Agency (IOM) and UN Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO) took the project for planting 36,500 trees and million grass cuttings in the upcoming days. Bangladesh’s Forest Department is coordinating with the Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC), UN agencies and NGO partners to stabilizing soil and replanting trees in the area, which used to be national forest land.200,000 saplings have been planted by humanitarian agencies for energy and environment activities in Cox’s Bazaar. They are also providing stoves for Rohingyas that they could not cut the wood. This project will also help the host community to improve the environment and work for the reforestation (reliefweb,2018).

There is poor management of solid waste and degradation in the wildlife habitats and human-wildlife conflicts and rampant use of fossil fuel, risk of climate change, extreme rainfall or extreme drought conditions, low-lying areas have already been swallowed by the sea, impacts on marine and freshwater ecosystems and reducing the growth of local agricultural crops (Benarnews, 2017). The UNDP suggested providing alternative fuel for cooking, restoration of degraded ecosystem and good management of waste and other degraded measures. This needs immediate action for the restoration of the environment. There is limited funding for the conservation of the environment in cox’s bazaar area. There is needed for more funding and sustainable solutions and long-time effort for the conservation of the environment (bdnews24,2018).

Repatriation is needed for Rohingya people. This can be the ultimate solution to solve the refugee problem in Bangladesh. Bangladesh should go for more fruitful diplomacy to repatriate them. This turned into a national crisis. To protect Bangladesh one of the most popular tourist spots from the overpopulation needs more international cooperation and more collaboration from government, civil society, NGOs, private sectors and so on. Restoration of the ecosystem is most needed for the conservation of the environment of that area as it is already damaged a lot and environment is gesturing for the future catastrophe too.

From the interviewees and visiting in the local area, it is found Bangladesh is immensely in a threatened position from both environmental and social perspectives. Environmental degradation is getting higher day by day. It is seen how the local area is devastated by uprooting trees, burning woods, cutting hills from the reserve forest area where no one was allowed to come before. But now it is devastated. The pressure on the ground of these huge number of Rohingya people on cutting hills is huge and at any time there could be landslides. The latrines are here and there in the camps and leaking these are polluting the water. The groundwater level is getting lower. People are already not getting water properly from that area. Rohingyas are cutting trees indiscriminately for their livelihood cooking and using in their shelters. It is seen, how adults were cutting trees and carrying woods with their children. And the scorching heat of the sun of that area has become intolerable because of the huge deforestation. The waste management in the camps is so poor. Rohingyas are dumping waste here and there in the camps. This is polluting the air and water and creating soil erosion. Shelter materials in the camp area are non-disposable and drinking water is carrying through a plastic container that is also non-disposable. These are harmful to the environment.

The huge number of people are arriving daily in the camps across the country and outside also to visit Rohingya. NGO workers, officials from international organizations, private organizations and others are giving them aid, providing facilities, educating the children. But all are less concerned about the environment. The local area can face the highest environmental catastrophe at any time. The local environment has almost devastated, local people are depriving of their rights for Rohingya. Their trees are being uprooted by Rohingyas. They are sometimes coming out from the camp area and selling their aid in cox’s bazaar city. That is creating huge chaos in Cox’s bazaar city and the tourist arrival has reduced than before in Cox’s bazaar after Rohingya arrival. A huge traffic problem is faced by Cox’s bazaar local people because of the influx of a great number of people in a small area. Their patience is getting lower day by day.

For protecting the Bangladesh environment, there is needed for a sustainable solution. Voluntary repatriation of Rohingyas can only solve the problem ultimately. From the view of national interest, Bangladesh needs to take proper diplomatic decisions and policies to solve the problem as early as possible. Humanity is important but not as important as own nation which is under immense threat for these huge number of refugees arriving from the environment, social, economic perspectives.

 

CHAPTER FIVE

This chapter is on the research conclusion and then a discussion about the study and the recommendation for the measures that should be taken and solutions of the problem.

CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION

Rohingya people are coming to Bangladesh since 1978. Then rapid influx has happened in 2017 that brought the environmental threat for Bangladesh especially in the local area. The biodiversity and ecosystem of the area are already in danger because of this overpopulation in a small area also posing coming threat for environmental degradation. Bangladesh should go back strongly in the diplomatic negotiation with Myanmar as this is much needed for Bangladesh for the national interest. Because it is being said that, Rohingya people’s loss is repairable but the loss of Bangladesh is unrepairable.

Bangladesh needs strong support from the international community to protect the environment of Bangladesh as the country tops all the country for environmental disaster and with this huge refugee influx, the threat for Bangladesh has become more with other measures. There is needed for more policy formulation, negotiation for Rohingya perspective. Early repatriation of Rohingya is needed for protecting the Bangladesh environment as no one knows what is stored for Bangladesh in the near future.

So, early measures need to be taken for bringing back the ecological balance in the local area and also Bangladesh needs more strong actors who can show up the problem globally and nationally and also needs to play the strong role in the negotiation table to get more aid and assistance from international community to deal with the Rohingya issue. And environmental problem needs to be more focused on as this is being considered as one the most dangerous threats for Bangladesh. Problem identification is more important to solve the problems and go for solutions.

            And all above these, Bangladesh has given them shelters for their safety that they did not get in their origin country from the view of humanity. But nothing could be greater than the own country’s interests. This Refugee influx in Bangladesh is a threat to our country. Having humanity is necessary and with this, the thinking of the betterment of the nation is important as well. It should not be forgotten that Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world with a huge number of population. Adding more population will lead to raising more and more problems, no matter how many measures to be taken to solve the issue. The problems will be getting bigger than smaller. So, no option is left for the government to be more concerned as the problem is not lessening, it is getting much higher in the future if they don’t come for ultimate sustainable solutions as early as possible.

Recommendation:

Recommendation for this study is –

  1. In a recent UN meeting, Prime Minister of Bangladesh placed proposals for returning back the Rohingyas as Bangladesh is facing challenges for them. The diversion of human and other resources for Rohingyas has taken a toll on the environment, economy, and society, she said. For this, it is most necessary to get them back in their country.
  2. This study recommends that the environmental problem of that area can not be solved in the presence of a huge number of Rohingya people. Their safe return to their home is necessary for them and also for Bangladesh. Voluntary repatriation is much needed.
  3. Moving Rohingyas to Vasanchor can reduce the pressure from cox’s bazaar environment.
  4. This study gives the total overview of environmental degradation in cox’s bazaar area and the catastrophe that can occur in the future for the Rohingya refugee crisis. That can help the other researchers in doing further researches.
  5. Bangladesh needs more strong diplomatic actions to repatriate Rohingyas to Myanmar and continuing negotiation with Myanmar until they come to ultimate solutions to repatriate the Rohingyas.
  6. Bangladesh government should strongly continue their effort to engage the world to Rohingya issue to solve the problem. Because of pressurization from the whole world on Myanmar government could solve the issue and then the environment can be saved as well.
  7. NGOs and civil society of Bangladesh need to play a more strong role in the country and the world as well despite maximizing their profits and doing business on Rohingya issue.
  8. Security service and the regulation of the local area should be increased more so that Rohingya people can not harm the environment and this should be considered as a punishable crime for the conservation of the environment.
  9. More engagement of local people and educating them more about environmental threats for the conservation of the environment.
  10. More policy formulations and implementations are needed from Bangladesh on Rohingya issue.

                                                          

References

  1. (Reliefweb, 2018), A precarious environment for the Rohingya refugees,  UN Environment Programme, from  https://reliefweb.int/report/bangladesh/precarious-environment-rohingya-refugees.nces

2. Khatun, F, Kamruzzaman & Mitu Z, 2017, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Implications of the Rohingya Crisis for Bangladesh.

3. Bhattacherjee, A, Rohingya Crisis: Policy Options and Analysis, BIPS special report, Rohingya policy brief.pdf

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23. Islam, S, 2017, UNB, Deforestation: The hidden cost of Bangladesh’s humane response to the Rohingya crisis

Appendix B                                                              

Interview Protocol Project: The Rohingya Crisis in Bangladesh from an environmental perspective.

Time of interview: 1.00 pm and 5:30 pm.

Date: 18 and 19 October 2018.

Place: Rohingya refugee camp, Balukhali, Ukhiya, Cox’s bazaar and BRAC office, Cox’s bazaar.

Interviewer: Sumiya Majumder Rinta.

Interviewees: Rantu Barua, Humayun Kabir, Mr.David, Obayedul Mia and Redwan.

Position of interviewees: NGO workers of BRAC and SOS children’s villages and Rohingya people in Ukhiya camp.

Rohingya refugee crisis is one of the largest refugee crises in the world now. Stateless Rohingya people have come to Bangladesh from Myanmar to escape from the military persecution against them. This huge influx of Rohingya people to Bangladesh that brought the environmental threat for Bangladesh. The local area of Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf are highly at risk. Government is providing shelters for them by cutting a large number of tress. That is creating deforestation, with this, there are also so many environmental risks that already Bangladesh is facing and can be facing in the near future too for this huge influx of Rohingya. This could bring a great natural catastrophe for Bangladesh.

So, for this highly environmental risks in Bangladesh for Rohingya people, my research arena is from the environmental perspective that is highly in danger for the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Questions are:

* What made Rohingyas come to Bangladesh?

Ans: In Balukhali camp, I had taken an interview of some Rohingya people like Rahim, Obayedul Mia. They said how the Myanmar army took control of their areas, they informed us about their miseries how Myanmar army was torturing and killing them and how they came to Bangladesh crossing the border. They said they do not want to go back to Myanmar if the Myanmar government does not give them their citizenships. They said, how they were derived from the education, they were allowed to study till class 8. Myanmar army burnt their houses and their legal documents said by Obayedul Mia.

I had the interaction with Redwan who is 10 years old boy. He came to Bangladesh last year with his family. His family stays beside the SOS children’s villages education shelter. He informed people to come to visit them almost every day in the shelter. There were also so many children. Some of them have come without their parents as they were persecuted.

*How have they created impacts on Environment of Bangladesh?

Ans: I had taken an interview of SOS children’s villages accountant Rantu Barua about the environmental degradation of that local area because of Rohingyas. He replied, “the loss is unrepairable.” He added Rohingya people are cutting tress because of the extra income, burning wood, children are not using latrine properly, cutting the hills, using groundwater. That is creating soil erosion, air pollution, water pollution, deforestation and so on.

We went to BRAC office and took interview of a BRAC worker named David, he said, how Bangladesh government has given shelters to them as the area was a reserve forest where Elephants used to live but after Rohingyas coming, no one knows where those elephants are gone. This is creating a huge impact on the environment.

*What types of environmental challenges have created for the crisis?

Ans: BRAC worker in humanitarian crisis management program Mr. David informed, “this crisis brought a threat for ecology and biological diversity of the area .” There is limited groundwater, too much usage of groundwater using tube wells. There are soil erosion, water pollution, air pollution scorching heat in that area because of huge deforestation, loss in agriculture sectors and so on, he added.

*What are the challenges local people are facing for Rohingya in the environmental perspective?

Ans: SOS worker Rantu Barua said, the local people are highly affected for Rohingyas. Rohingyas are cutting their tress, taking away their jobs, depriving of their facilities from NGOs and government, polluting the water, cutting the hills, causing landslides and creating problems for waste from the camps.

David said, this influx brought a threat for local people, they are depriving of the assistance of government and NGOs. Though he also said, they are also working for host community making cyclone center, education shelter and trying to provide 25% to host community from government’s funds.

*How are the reaction of local people for environmental issues?

Ans: David said, there are creating chaos between Rohingya and local people. Local people are not letting to cut their trees and collect their woods. Recently, there was an incident where they have beaten up some Rohingyas and Rohingyas are also aggressive sometimes on the host community.

*What scarcities can be faced by Bangladesh in near future because of the crisis?

Ans: Mr. David said, the high level of environmental degradation like losing of biological diversity of that area. Already wildlife is being destroyed for a huge number of people in a small area, the groundwater level is reducing day by day. And there is a huge threat to health issues. There is a chance for outbreaking of many diseases like HIV, TB  and so on. Though David said, They have the private health care center to control the diseases. Some Rohingyas were gone through some major diseases like HIV. With BRAC contribution those diseases did not outbreak. BRAC workers work in different 19 zones with camp in charge.

*How can government overcome the environmental problems by taking necessary steps?

Ans: David said, Government can take necessary steps like transforming them in Vasanchor and providing shelters and facilities there. This will reduce the pressure from Ukhiya and cox’s bazaar and also reduce the environmental degradation of Cox’s bazaar.

*How environmental risks increase more in monsoon period?

Ans:  Rantu Barua said, because of rain, there is a tendency for land sliding and floods as a huge number of trees have been cutting since the arrival of refugees.

*What are the roles of NGOs in Rohingya camps for protecting the environment?

Ans: we have taken an interview with two different NGOs workers. David from BRAC said BRAC provides pure water, sanitation, tubewell establishment, shelter building and so on. They provide 20-liter water to 1 million people daily. There is “BRAC Polli”. They have a private health care center to control the diseases.

We were conducting with SOS Children’s villages which is working for the Rohingya children. They have the five spaces for education for Rohingya children in Balukhali camp. They help children by educating them by providing essentials for them. We divided into three groups and went into three spaces of SOS Children’s Villages. They basically focus on 3-12 years children providing basic education informally and stuffs like chocolates, mini milk packets and so on. We collected so many information from NGO workers about Rohingya refugees and also interacted with Rohingya children and their guardians.

*How can they prevent those environmental challenges altogether?

Ans: Mr. David said, there is a need for collaboration from government, NGOs and private sectors.

*How are International organizations responding for huge environmental threats for Rohingya influx in Bangladesh?

Ans: It is said, 45,000 trees and around 700,000 grass cuttings have been planted by Rohingya refugees and local villagers in Cox’s Bazar to help reverse the environmental damage caused by the arrival of some 730,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in the area over the past year. The UN Migration Agency (IOM) and the UN Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO) project will plant further 36,500 trees and million grass cuttings over the coming days.

*Are investments for the environment enough?

Ans: Another worker from SOS  said, the investments from the government, foreign countries and international organizations are not enough. The aid is decreasing day by day.

*Have Bangladesh Foresty Department taken any special measures for the preservation of the forest and other areas in cox’s bazaar district?

Ans: In an interview, Ukhiya forest officials claimed they were helpless to stop construction of the settlements. “We are helpless. Every day the Rohingyas are grabbing more of the forest. But we cannot do anything,” Md Ali Kabir, divisional forest officer of Cox’s Bazar (south forest zone)”. They are preparing lots of reports of environmental degradation to let the issue to focus.

*What is the contribution of NGOs for maintaining and protecting a sustainable environment in the refugee crisis?

Ans: Mr. David said, BRAC has collaborated with Swiss development cooperation to planting trees and giving away the seeds to the Rohingyas to plant. They are working in the agriculture sectors to repair the loss of the environment. The government gave them 123-acre land to planting trees.

* What is being done, or needs to be done, by the local authorities and the international community?

Ans: Local communities should more concern about their rights and be active for protecting the environment and the international community should pressurize the Myanmar government more to bring back to their people. There should be effective diplomacy within actors.

*What sustainable solutions can be taken for the conservation of environment and ecosystem?

Ans: Reducing the pressure of a huge number of people and planting more and more trees to repair the loss of the environment, David said.

*How media is dealing with this environmental crisis?

Ans: Media is reporting on higher degradation of the local environment of cox’s bazaar and international media is also reporting for the coming threat of Bangladesh but there should be a collaboration of all sectors to go for sustainable solutions for avoiding environmental. 

Appendix C

Figure 2 : Refugee Influx since 1991.                                     

Appendix D

Figure 3: Deforestation rate in the camp area

Appendix E

 Figure 4:  pre-influx: (A) December 2016 and post-influx: (B) December 2017. The pre-influx map (A) shows two refugee settlement camps and in the post-influx land cover map shows many settlements in the forestland.

 Appendix F

  Figure 5: Settlements on forested land. 

 Appendix G

 Figure 6: Settlements on hills base.

 Appendix H

Figure 8: Shelters materials are non disposable.

                                                            

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