The entire world is currently facing a lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic for the past 1 year. On the other hand, more than 80 million human beings are presently forced to migrate. There are several reasons for this forced migration all over the world.
The Syrian conflict, Eritrea violence, and the violation of human rights in Myanmar are a few of the hot spots. As a result, people from these places are trying to relocate to Western Europe and North America or some of the neighboring countries and forming refugee camps.
Huge refugee camps are a shelter for displaced individuals that are creating large-scale environmental problems. These refugees make use as well as pollute water, poach animals for various purposes, deplete natural resources for food and fuel, damage World Heritage sites, nature reserves, and parks. These impacts motivate host countries to become less welcoming to intake more refugees.
International Laws Regarding Refugee Camps
There are many international laws that provide limited protection to refugee camps. Nonetheless, laws prevent the forcing of refugees to return to those nations where they had been previously persecuted. Refugees usually find it extremely difficult to acquire adequate relief or redress.
The international laws along with the human impacts on environmental change worldwide will indicate several crucial dimensions. Research on the refugee camps reveals that more than 1 million refugees from Rohingya had fled from Myanmar and entered Bangladesh. They have caused enormous environmental damage. As a result, the refugee issue has brought a new aspect that must be considered.
Researchers consider that many countries are offering a safe place as refugee camps and they must possess the legal options in order to sue the country persecuting and sending them. This is mainly due to the reason that refugee camps pose serious environmental harm. Some payments will greatly help in addressing the expenses of housing millions of refugees. In addition, direct support must be offered by the sending nation to maintain the cost of living of these displaced persons.
Thousands of homeless people start moving to another country without food, jobs, money, or belongings. Consequently, they need numerous things including clean water, food, health care facilities, and other amenities.
Bangladesh is suffering from this situation since more than 1 million Rohingyas migrated in August 2017. They escaped violence meted out in their own country, Myanmar. This has led to unimaginable environmental damage across Bangladesh that is massive and unprecedented.
Almost 3,713 acres of significant reserve forestland have been cleared to make space for refugee camps to house Rohingyas in Bangladesh. This has resulted in soil erosion that has amplified drastically. Over 100 tons of garbage and human waste have already polluted waterways and canals and severely degraded the air quality. Furthermore, there is a loss of habitat for wildlife that is endangering animals.
Human Rights & Refugee Laws
Existing international laws have mentioned that the state that is causing people to flee is not required to bear the financial responsibility in normal circumstances. However, it is now being reconsidered and new laws are being reinstated that require such governments to take accountability for the financial as well as human losses.
There are some strong historical reasons for holding the sending nations responsible for the environmental damages. The United States of America has managed to sue Canada with the help of the Smelter Arbitration of Trails of 1938 & 1941. Canada had caused pollution through one of their smelting factories situated near their border. Finally, the Canadian firm had to stop its operations and had to make financial payments.
This case laid grounds that support the rule of ‘no-harm’ and mentions that states have a stringent obligation towards causing environmental damage to another state. This rule presently reflects expected international laws and all states must abide and uphold.
For instance, factory fumes from one country are allowed to cross international borders, refugees can also flee to another nation to escape persecution. The state with the unwanted refugee camps can depend on the expected international laws in order to take action against the state sending the refugees. The International Justice Court usually imposes the rule of ‘no-harm’ to take decisions in such cases.
Refugees Damaging Environment
International laws specify that the government should preserve and protect the environment along with the provision of suitable and stable places for every citizen. These responsibilities are codified by specific countries through treaties. Some of these treaties include the Human Rights of Arab Charter, the Human Rights’ American Convention, and the Human & Peoples’ Rights of African Charter. The European Council has also specified the right of every human to a healthy and clean environment.
Some recent lawsuits that took steps against states are Jakarta that sued Indonesia for polluting their air quality. The government of Brazil also filed a few cases for inadequate protection of their biodiversity and the safe climate of the Amazon Rainforests.
Based on these precedents and principles, Bangladesh can possibly challenge Myanmar with a strong legal case for causing environmental damage through refugee camps. Bangladesh has already been recognized as one of the most environmentally vulnerable nations. Additionally, the Rohingya refugee camps are increasing these threats.
Bangladesh can easily press charges on Myanmar for causing people to escape and give the large numbers of refugees in their country. They calculate the numbers in the refugee camps and claim costs from Myanmar. It is logical for the country that displaces people must bear consequences.