Chittagong Ship Graveyard


In 1996, I visited Bangladesh for the third time. Earlier, we covered of Rohingyas refugees in the vicinity of Cox's Bazaar. More than 250.000 desperate refugees had fled the violence in Myanmar and were cramped together into camps on a narrow stretch of land on the most southern point of the country. We worked with the relief organization Doctors without Borders and after two days, we were bringing in medicines during a cyclone storm instead of taking pictures and writing stories. My friend Willy made a decision that would change his life: he applied on the spot for a job as logistics manager and since then he only returned to Europe to visit his family. 

Together, we visited this ship graveyard in Chittagong. Huge cargo ships are grounded there, navigated into the mud until they are stuck, and dismantled till the last bolt by thousands of workers. We didn't spend too much time on the site, the owners didn't appreciate the free publicity. An image that still strikes me is the child working tirelessly while the owners of the shipyard are laughing and joking in the background.