Driving over the newly established roads at the Balukahli refugee camp in southern Bangladesh, a visitor can faintly understand what kind of landscape this area once brandished.
Now, rows after rows of temporary housing are covering the many hills and small little ravines in this area. The all popped up in the last six months, after the Burmese military started a punishment expedition against the Rohinga minority in Rahkine state in neighboring Myanmar. Now in this “Megacamp” over 500 000 people found refugee. But it came also for a price.
The area was once a forest reserve, home to forest elephants and mighty tropical trees. All this had to vanish. On the picture above, one of the biggest trees can be seen, left standing, to give shade and also to prevent the soil from erosion. As the monsoon rains are about to start, many observers fear that the loose, sandy soil the shelters are built upon, will give in, causing mayhem and destruction, even costing lives.
With water, heat and human waste the danger of deadly diseases will rise exponentially.
Always when humans got into conflict with each other, it was nature that suffered as well. Very often the price of a physical conflict is measured in destruction of industry, trade and infrastructure, but rarely it is paid attention to the damage that is done to nature. Which might be much longer lasting.
Agent Orange, the chemical agent used by the US military in Vietnam in the 60’s and 70’s, is still causing massive environmental damage, that eventually is falling back to humans too.
As cities can be rebuilt, roads repaired and trading relations reestablished, the repair of nature is maybe not so simple.