Refugee camp in South-East Asia


The Kutupalong Refugee Camp is located near Cox’s Bazar, a town in Bangladesh. It is one of the largest refugee camps in the world. Established in 1991, it was originally designed to house refugees fleeing conflict in neighbouring Myanmar. Over the years, it has grown into a sprawling settlement providing shelter and essential services to Rohingya refugees and other displaced communities.

Satellite images of Kutupalong show the change in the land cover, as the original vegetation is removed from the area of the camp. In this way it is possible to monitor the growth and current size of the camp.

Covering an area of approximately 13 square kilometres, in 2023 the camp has been home to over a million people. Rows of makeshift shelters, schools, medical clinics, and markets can be seen, depicting the camp’s evolution into a self-sustaining community. Kutupalong hosts around 130 formal and informal learning centres, providing education to over 100,000 Rohingya children. Humanitarian organizations have built over 45,000 shelters, but the need for more durable housing remains critical.


  • Satellite Map:
    • Using the map layer selector in the upper right, deselect all layers except the one from 2017.
    • Which landscape structures and land cover classes can you identify?
    • Switch the satellite image layer from 2023 on and off and compare the satellite images from 2017 and 2023. Which differences can you identify between the two satellite images? What do they tell you about the development of the refugee camp?
    • Activate the layer “Refugee camps”. How well does the extent of the refugee camps agree with the changes you have identified? Can you see differences beyond the borders of the camp? What about forest areas in the wider environment?
    • Using the information given in the text, try to estimate the population density of the camp. Compare with the values of densely populated European cities such as Paris or Athens with roughly 20.000 inhabitants per km².
  • EO Browser:
    • Open EO Browser.
    • Find the most recent Sentinel-2 dataset covering the area displayed in the satellite map. Is it easy to obtain cloud-free images in that area? Why/why not?
    • Can you identify recent changes in the areas of the refugee camps and beyond?

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