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UN Agencies and Bangladesh Government Advances to Prevent Further Deforestation

Dillon says disappearing forests are putting great pressure on the animals in the region.

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A deforested section of the Chakmakul camp for Rohingya refugees clings to a hillside in southern Bangladesh, Feb. 13, 2018. VOA
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U.N. agencies and the Bangladesh government have begun distributing liquid petroleum gas stoves in Cox’s Bazar to help prevent further deforestation, which has been accelerating with the huge influx of Rohingya refugees during the past year.

Cox’s Bazar is home to large areas of protected forest and an important wildlife habitat. The arrival of more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar has put enormous pressure on these precious resources.

U.N. Migration Agency spokesman, Paul Dillon tells VOA, the refugees have been cutting down the trees and clearing land to build makeshift shelters. He says they and many local villagers also rely almost exclusively on firewood to cook their meals.

“Consequently, the forests in that area are being denuded at the rate of roughly four football fields every single day. We are told by the experts at this rate, by 2019 there will be no further forests in that area,” he said.

Deforestation
Deforestation

Scientists note deforestation has devastating consequences for the environment leading to soil erosion, fewer crops, increased flooding and, most significantly, the loss of habitat for millions of species.

Dillon says disappearing forests are putting great pressure on the animals in the region.

“It interrupts migration pathways and regrettably forces these, sort of, artificial confrontations between animals in the wild and communities as they move into areas that have been logged out often-times in search of arable farmland and that type of thing,” he said.

Also Read: First Satellite Launched by Bangladesh

The project aims to distribute liquid petroleum gas stoves and gas cylinders to around 250,000 families over the coming months. U.N. agencies say the stoves will have additional benefits besides helping to prevent deforestation.

For example, they note smoke from firewood burned in homes and shelters without proper ventilation causes many health problems, especially among women and children who spend much of their time indoors. (VOA)

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Bangladesh Government Build a New Rohingya Camp

The islet is about 30 kilometers from the mainland.

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Rohingya
View of the island of Bhasan Char in the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh

The Bangladesh government wants to send about 100,000 Rohingya refugees to a muddy, uninhabited island — “formed only in the last 20 years by silt from Bangladesh’s Meghna River” — in the Bay of Bengal.

Nearly 700,000 Rohingyas have sought refuge in Bangladesh after fleeing Myanmar following a military crackdown in August 2017.

The use of Bhashan Char Island, however, is being questioned by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which is urging the country to reconsider the move, because six other “feasible relocation sites” have been identified, they say in a report.

Rohingya
Bangladesh has made some improvements to the islet, including housing for about 100,000 refugees. A look at the development of Bhasan Char, formed by silt deposits from the Meghna River, over the past 20 years. VOA

Most Rohingya are refusing to leave Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar refugee camp.

HRW, in a 68-page report, said the island is not suitable for human life and could become completely submerged in the event of a strong cyclone during a high tide.

Also Read: Rohingya Shot in Rakhine Camp By Myanmar Police Raises United Nation’s Concern

The islet is about 30 kilometers from the mainland. The New York-based organization said the lack of assurance of freedom of movement to and from Bhasan Char and its isolation “would essentially turn the island into a detention center.” (VOA)