FUELING THE FIRE: ROHINGYA YOUTH WOOD FORAGING IN COX'S BAZAR
With the Monsoon season in full force in Cox’s Bazar, and the continuing influx of Rohingya
refuges crossing into Bangladesh, it is easy to look at the immediate problems and more difficult
to consider the daily structural issues at the refugee camps that affect Rohingya refugees and
local Bangladeshis alike.
Here we see the daily life of young, Rohingya children - as young as six years old - who trek
miles into the middle of the Bangladeshi jungle every morning, facing dangers such as thieves,
wild elephants, and others competing to harvest wood in a forest where daily wood foraging has
caused an exponential growth in deforested land.
Rohingya families need firewood to cook throughout the year and remain warm during the
winter months. With many refugee families struggling to eat and obtain clean water, the
dangerous and laborious yet simple task of wood collecting in the forest is usually left to the
children in the family. The daily life of the children collecting wood becomes increasingly difficult
as they must travel further and further into the jungle to find wood. On top of that, the risk of
these children being robbed or beaten for collecting wood on Bangladeshi land is increasing as
the tension between local Bangladeshis who feel their land is being taken and destroyed by
refugees and Rohingya refugees who are struggling to survive with little to no recourses,
continues to boil.
It appears right now that hopes for the Burmese government to recognize the Rohingya minority
with full citizenship and protection in Myanmar is a reverie at best, and the Rohingya refugees in
Bangladesh are not going anywhere for a long time. With forest resources quickly depleting, an
alternative source of fuel for cooking and heat must be provided for the refugees before the
tension between local Bangladeshis and Rohingya refugees becomes a more dire and violent