Bangladesh has decided to move more rohingya refugees to the remote island of Bhasan Char. The government says the relocation is voluntary but some refugees from the first group that went there in early December have spoken of being coerced.
Despite global criticism from the United Nations and other human rights organisations from around the world, Bangladesh has decided to relocate 2,000to 3,000 more Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Myanmar to the remote island of Bhasan Char island.
Since early December, Bangladesh has moved more than 3,500 refugees to Bhasan Char from border camps where a million live in ramshackle huts perched on razed hillsides. The Rohingya, a minority group who fled violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, are not allowed to move off the island without government permission
Bhasan Char emerged from the sea only two decades ago and is several hours by boat from the nearest port at Chittagong. The Rohingya, a minority group who fled violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, are not allowed to move off the island without government permission.
“Most probably, they will be taken to Chittagong tomorrow and the next day, they will be sent to Bhasan Char from there,” Navy Commodore Abdullah Al Mamun Chowdhury told Reuters.
“Last time, we had preparations for 700 to 1,000 but finally more than 1,800 Rohingya refugees moved there. People who moved earlier are calling their relatives and friends to go there. That’s why more people are going there.”
Rohingya Crisis – A Bangladeshi Nightmare
Bangladesh justifies the move to the island saying overcrowding in the camps in Cox’s Bazar is leading to crimes. Tractor-trailers and army trucks took the refugees to their new concrete homes and bunk beds.
It also dismisses concerns of floods, citing the construction of a 2-metre (6.5 feet) embankment for 12 km (7.5 miles) to protect the island along with housing for 100,000 people, as well as facilities such as cyclone centres and hospitals.
Its actions, nevertheless, have attracted criticism from relief agencies that have not been consulted on the transfers.
The rights groups have expressed concerns over the new site’s vulnerability to storms. The United Nations says it has not been involved in the relocation but urged the Bangladeshi government to ensure no refugee is forced to move to Bhasan Char island – an island that emerged from the sea only 20 years ago.
The Bangladeshi government has built a 2-metre (6.5 feet) high embankment for 12-km (7.5 mile) to protect the island along with housing for 100,000 people. It dismisses the risks. “The island is completely safe,” Foreign Minister Abdul Momen.
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