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Foxtrot poses for a photograph at one of the refugee camps. Photo: World Food Programme/ Instagram
With interest in the Rohingya refugees fading two years after fleeing their homeland, the World Food Programme has found a new weapon to maintain awareness, one with a wet nose and a wagging tail.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have fled a military crackdown in Myanmar into Bangladesh. They are now stuck in vast refugee camps with little prospect of returning home.
WFP official Gemma Snowdon interacts with Foxtrot. AFP
The exodus attracted global attention at the time, but despite the efforts of aid agencies — including a February visit to the camps by UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie -- the world is losing interest.
But late last year, workers from the WFP rescued a three-week-old puppy abandoned on the beach, adopting him and naming him Foxtrot.
Gemma Snowdon, a WFP communications officer, said that after posting photos of Foxtrot on her personal social media pages, she had a brainwave that the canine could be put to good use.
Foxtrot at the refugee camp wearing his blue UN apron. Photo: World Food Programme/ Instagram
Now Foxtrot has his own Instagram account -- called "humanitarian_pup" -- with regular updates on his activities around the camps, sometimes wearing his own blue UN apron.
"As time goes on, interest and attention on situations like these and emergency responses like these does naturally die off," Snowdon told AFP.
"Foxtrot is opening us up to new audiences, and keeping the story of what's happening here on the agenda," she said. "He's very popular with donors."
Shah's father Mohammad Selim said his son was a miracle child. "Allah saved my kid that night. All praise to Him," said Selim, an imam at a mosque at Balukhali refugee camp.
Human rights groups have long campaigned for the nearly half a million effectively stateless Rohingya children in Bangladesh’s refugee camps to be allowed access to quality education, warning of the costs of a "lost generation."
If there is one breed of people whose position shows no sign of improvement, it is the refugees. Be it in Bangladesh or Lebanon, their predicament seems precarious as they get tossed around from place to place – homeless, hapless, helpless.
The United Nations says it has not been involved in the relocation but urged the government to ensure no refugee is forced to move to Bhasan Char island, which only emerged from the sea 20 years ago.
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