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WFP/Gemma Snowdon
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This Rescue Dog Is Shining a Light on the Rohingya Refugee Crisis

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh holds the world’s largest refugee camp, housing more than 870,000 Rohingya who fled genocide in Myanmar. The global humanitarian community is working tirelessly to help these refugees get health care, food, water, education, and shelter. You can join us in taking action on related issues here.

Dogs have become mayors, award-winning plastic recyclers, and guardians of other species.

Now Foxtrot, a rescue dog in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, is adding humanitarian to the list of canine accomplishments, for his work shining a light on the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis.

Foxtrot was discovered when aid workers with the World Food Program joined a volunteer beach clean-up, according to NPR. The dog ambled up to the group and followed them back to their compound.

Take Action: Raped, Burned Alive, And Murdered: Rohingya Children Deserve Justice

At first, Foxtrot was weak and dehydrated, so Gemma Snowdon, a WFP aid worker, gave him some food and water to help him recover. The next day, Foxtrot was full of life and he’s has been with the team ever since.

He now has his own Instagram account, where photos show him in various humanitarian situations often with an infectious smile or with his brow furrowed in deep contemplation.

Posts show him helping teams building infrastructure to guard refugee homes against monsoon floods, reading books designed for children in the camps, and waiting to meet the World Food Program’s supply chain team.

Read More: Saving the Lives of Rohingya Children Might Start With Giving Them Paintbrushes

WFP also features Foxtrot in videos, where a dubbed voice assumes his identity and tells the audience about the situation in Cox’s Bazar, where multiple refugee camps have combined to become the world’s largest refugee camp. It houses more than 870,000 Rohingya refugees who fled neighboring Myanmar in 2017 following a genocidal campaign waged by the army.

Foxtrot-WFP-Rohingya-004-Full.jpgImage: WFP/Gemma Snowdon

The violence that drove Rohingya out of Myanmar was the culmination of decades of violence and oppression. Refugees in Cox’s Bazar are essentially stateless because Myanmar refuses to recognize their citizenship, and efforts to return refugees to their home state of Rakhine have floundered partly because of mismanagement and partly because Rohingya fear going back to a place where they endured horrific violence.

As a result, the settlement near Cox’s Bazar has become a sort of purgatory. Refugees living in the camps are unable to get jobs in Bangladesh and the government prohibits people in the camps from building permanent structure homes to prevent long-term residence.

Read More: Rohingya Refugees Are Being Returned to Myanmar — Against Their Wishes

The humanitarian challenges facing the camps are multifaceted. Many Rohingya refugees require extensive therapy to overcome the trauma of being violently expelled from their homes, and countless people suffered life-changing injuries and wounds.

Children in the camps are often unable to go to school, setting them up for a lifetime of poverty. Girls, in particular, are being pushed into child marriages and sexual slavery and teenage pregnancies have become disturbingly common.

Health crises in the camp range from malnutrition to an ongoing cholera crisis, and many people do not have adequate access to water and food.

Read More: Drugs and Violence Threaten Rohingya Men in the World's Largest Refugee Camp

And the annual monsoon season threatens catastrophic landslides and flooding.

Amid this grim context, Foxtrot is helping to draw attention to a crisis that has seemingly been sidelined due to compassion fatigue.

Foxtrot started out as a stray, but these days he’s learning multiple languages, studying the latest humanitarian news, and helping his bosses manage spreadsheets. He loves to visit the logistics centers, where he monitors food deliveries. And when monsoon season arrives, Foxtrot is making sure the settlement will be prepared to handle the rain.

Foxtrot shows that in the toughest of situations, sometimes a dog can help people get through the day.

Foxtrot-WFP-Rohingya-002.jpgImage: WFP/Gemma Snowdon