• Sunday, Mar 29, 2020
  • Last Update : 11:59 am

Govt again postpones Rohingya relocation to Bhasan Char

  • Published at 06:44 pm February 26th, 2020
BANGLADESH-bhashanchar-rohingya-bhasan
File Photo: In this handout aerial photo taken on June 19, 2019 and released on October 21 by Mukta Dinwiddie MacLaren Architects shows buildings intended to accomodate members of the Rohingya refugee community on the silt islet Bhashan Char in the Bay of Bengal AFP

Bangladesh and Myanmar have already signed a repatriation deal to send back some Rohingya to their homeland - but safety fears mean very few have agreed to return

Government has yet again shelved a plan to relocate some 100,000 Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char in the Bay of Bengal, disaster management and relief minister said Wednesday.

Dhaka has long sought to relocate some of million-plus Rohingya population to Bhasan Char, despite warnings the silty strip of land was prone to violent and potentially deadly monsoon storms.

The move would take some pressure off the overcrowded border camps home to huge numbers of the persecuted and stateless Muslim minority, most of whom fled neighbouring Myanmar in 2017 after a brutal military crackdown. 

But rights groups say that some refugees had been coerced into agreeing to relocation and the plan has been staunchly opposed by the Rohingya community at large.  

State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief, Dr Enamur Rahman said government would increase its focus on diplomatic talks aimed at returning the refugees home. 

"The relocation plan has been postponed," he told AFP, adding that there had been "much progress" in repatriation discussions with Myanmar with China acting as intermediary. 

Bangladesh and Myanmar have already signed a repatriation deal to send back some Rohingya to their homeland - but safety fears mean very few have agreed to return.

Thousands are suspected to have been killed in Myanmar during the 2017 Rohingya crackdown and refugees brought reports of widespread rape and arson by soldiers and ethnic Rakhine mobs.

The military denies nearly all wrongdoing and insists its operations were justified in order to root out Rohingya insurgents.

Bangladesh Navy has spent years building homes, facilities and barrage on Bhasan Char at a cost of $280 million.