Rohingya refugee crisis threatens biodiversity of Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar

In this Jan. 22, 2018, file photo, Rohingya children and refugees raise their hands and shout that they won't go back to Myanmar during a demonstration at Kutupalong near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Cutting of firewood by Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar is putting great stress to the region's biodiversity, according to a report. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)
Updated 03 June 2018

Rohingya refugee crisis threatens biodiversity of Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar

  • 2,000 hectares of forestland has disappeared due to refugees cutting trees for firewood
  • Bangladesh government plans to start reforestation once 1,00,000 refugees are shifted to the new island Bhashan Char (Floating island).

DHAKA: Some 2,000 hectares of forestland — equivalent to four football fields — around Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, has disappeared due to Rohingya refugees cutting trees for firewood, according to a report by the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG).

It added that 86 percent of drinking-water wells have been contaminated with the E.coli bacteria from fecal matter.

Due to the “extreme level” of deforestation, the area’s biodiversity has been jeopardized, said Saiful Islam, assistant director of the environmental office in Cox’s Bazar.

The government will implement a reforestation plan once 100,000 Rohingya are relocated to Bhashan Char island in the Bay of Bengal, he added. “This relocation process is supposed to start very soon,” he said.

Hosting more than one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar “has created extraordinary pressure on our resources, as the population of Cox’s Bazar has more than doubled in a short span of time,” Islam added.

Rakibul Amin, country manager for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), told Arab News: “Due to deforestation, the biodiversity of Cox’s Bazar is under severe threat.”

He added: “It has destroyed a popular corridor for wild elephants, increasing the number of man-animal encounters.” Some rare wildlife species are at risk due to the deforestation, he said.

Agricultural land near the refugee camps is facing siltation and contamination from fecal matter, according to the ISCG report.

Bishwajit Sen, an environmentalist in Cox’s Bazar, said: “This deforestation has made this coastal district more vulnerable to climate change.”

He added: “We should have done better and systematic management of the environment from the outset of the refugee crisis.”

To reduce dependence on firewood, some aid agencies have started arranging alternative fuel sources, the report said.


London police charge homeless man with mosque stabbing

Updated 22 February 2020

London police charge homeless man with mosque stabbing

  • Suspect Daniel Horton stabbed London Central Mosque’s muazzin Raafat Maglad during daily prayers on Thursday
  • Horton will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a preliminary hearing later Saturday

LONDON: London police on Saturday charged a 29-year-old homeless man with causing grievous bodily harm and possessing an illegal knife he used to stab a mosque leader during prayers.
Suspect Daniel Horton stabbed London Central Mosque’s muazzin Raafat Maglad during daily prayers on Thursday.
London police quickly ruled out a terror motive.
Maglad was treated at a London hospital and returned to the mosque for Friday’s evening service with his arm wrapped in a sling,
“I forgive him. I feel very sorry for him,” Maglad told reporters on Friday.
“To me, as a Muslim, I don’t need to put any hatred in my heart.”
Several regulars at the Regent’s Park area mosque in northwest London said they had seen Horton attend a few services in the past year.
Horton will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a preliminary hearing later Saturday.