‘The large number of refugees that have come to Bangladesh has put pressure on the refugees themselves, the local villagers and the natural resources in the area. Funding from Norway will be used in efforts to find better alternatives to the firewood that is currently being used as fuel in and around the refugee camps. At the same time, the environment will be restored through reforestation,’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide said.
The funds will go to a UN project to provide Rohingya families in refugee camps in Bangladesh and in the local communities safe access to alternative fuels. This will stop deforestation and mitigate environmental damage in the areas surrounding the camps. Planting trees will also give families, and particularly women who are breadwinners, the opportunity to earn an income.
‘Through this UN project, we are helping to provide income to vulnerable refugee families and at the same time reducing deforestation. This will improve living conditions for both the refugees and the local villagers, while restoring the landscape,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
Since August 2017, more than 700 000 Rohingyas have been forced to flee Rakhine state in Myanmar. They are now living in refugee camps in Bangladesh in areas, that used to be forest land. A scarcity of fuel for cooking means that the refugees have to leave the camps to find firewood. This causes damage to the environment and is a safety risk, particularly for women.
Norway has provided NOK 224 million (approximately USD 26 million) in humanitarian aid to alleviate the acute situation for the Rohingyas. Of this total, NOK 184 million (approximately USD 21 million) has been allocated to refugees in Bangladesh. The reforestation project is a partnership between the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).