DhakaTribune
Tuesday August 22, 2017 08:43 PM

Thengar Char for Rohingya rehabilitation

Thengar Char for Rohingya rehabilitation
Tree roots are seen Thengar Char island in the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh, February 2, 2017 Reuters

The number of Rohingya migrants from Myanmar now far exceeds the refugee camp capacities in Cox's Bazar.

In order to provide humanitarian support to them, the Bangladesh government has made a decision to rehabilitate the registered refugees from the camps to Thengar Char, a disjunct island in Noakhali. However, whether or not this island is suitable for rehabilitation of the Rohingya refugees is the now the question that needs to be considered.

According to a report published by the Bangla Tribune, many of the locals of nearby areas in Noakhali have expressed their opinions against it. Although the main concern is the remoteness of the island from the mainland and its susceptibility to natural disasters, another looming concern are frequent attacks by dacoits and pirates in and around this part of the country.

A view of the Thengar Char island in the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh, February 2, 2017Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

A view of the Thengar Char island in the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh, February 2, 2017 Reuters

Some of the locals said although rehabilitation may be possible with some difficulty, the severe lack of employment opportunities in this area could possibly lead these refugees to join the gangs and thereby amplify the existing problems caused by dacoits and pirates.

Recently, the State Minister of Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam has made an announcement regarding the rehabilitation of the Rohingya refugees and said this temporary arrangement will hold until necessary steps are taken for them to return to Myanmar.

About 70,000 Rohingyas have sought refuge in Cox’s Bazar camps in Bangladesh since the violent attacks on their human rights in Myanmar that began last year.

Thengar Char has an area of nearly 10,000 acres of land about 80km away from Noakhali city centre in the junction of Meghna river and the Bay of Bengal, which makes it highly affected by the tides everyday.

A view of the Thengar Char island in the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh, February 2, 2017Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

A view of the Thengar Char island in the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh, February 2, 2017 Reuters

And although it has been nearly 11 years since the formation of the island, it still doesn’t have any mobile network or proper human settlements, which makes it a perfect hideout for the dacoits and pirates, as well as for drugs and arms dealers.

Noakhali Upazila Nirbahi Officer Khandakar Mohammad Rezaul Karim as well as the Deputy Commissioner Badre Munir Ferdous said they are yet to receive a formal notice in this regard.

Previously in 2015, when the rehabilitation of Rohingya refugees to Thengar Char was suggested by the government, it was strongly opposed by human rights groups.

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