• Friday, Nov 22, 2019
  • Last Update : 06:34 pm

Bangladesh to move Rohingya to flood-prone island next month

  • Published at 11:59 pm October 20th, 2019
Web_Bhashan Char
File Photo: The photo, collected from project official Atikul Islam’s Facebook page, shows houses built under a project to accommodate Rohingya refugees in Bhashan Char, Noakhali, Bangladesh

Dhaka wants to move 100,000 refugees to Bhasan Char – a Bay of Bengal island hours by boat from the mainland – to ease overcrowding in its camps at Cox’s Bazar

Bangladesh will start relocating Rohingyas to a flood-prone island off its coast next month as several thousand refugees have agreed to move, a government official said on Sunday.

Dhaka wants to move 100,000 refugees to Bhasan Char – a Bay of Bengal island hours by boat from the mainland – to ease overcrowding in its camps at Cox’s Bazar, home to more than one million Rohingya Muslims who have fled neighbouring Myanmar.

"We want to start relocation by early next month," Mahbub Alam Talukder, the Relief and Repatriation Commission chief based in Cox’s Bazar, told Reuters, adding that "the refugees will be shifted in phases".


Also Read - Inside the Bhashan Char plan for Rohingyas


"Our officials are compiling the lists of the refugees who are willing to move there," he said, adding that as many as 7,000 refugees had by Saturday agreed to shift.

Some human rights groups have expressed concern over that plan because the island is remote and prone to devastation from cyclones. Many refugees oppose the move, which some human rights experts fear could spark a new crisis.

Densely populated Bangladesh has been grappling with large refugee numbers, with local communities turning hostile towards Rohingya after a second failed bid to send thousands back to Myanmar in August.

The number of refugees in Cox’s Bazar has swelled since August 2017, when a Myanmar military-led crackdown that UN investigators have said was conducted with “genocidal intent” prompted some 730,000 Rohingya to flee.


Also Read - What do Rohingyas think about Bhashan Char?


A UN human rights investigator who visited in January said she feared a new crisis if Rohingya were taken to the island.

“There are a number of things that remain unknown to me even following my visit, chief among them being whether the island is truly habitable,” said Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar.

Shah Kamal, secretary of Bangladesh’s Disaster Management Ministry, said the government was in talks with U.N. agencies to move the refugees to Bhasan Char, which it has been developing for the past three years.

The photo, collected from project official Atikul Islam’s Facebook page, shows the housing project for Rohingyas under construction in Bhashan Char, Noakhali, Bangladesh 

“There is no reason to be concerned about floods because we have built storm surge embankment, with all other facilities," he said.

"No one will be moved there against their will."