• Monday, Nov 29, 2021
  • Last Update : 02:19 am

Rohingya relocation to Bhashan Char resumes Thursday

  • Published at 06:47 pm November 23rd, 2021
Bhashan Char
File photo: A group of Rohingya arriving at Bhashan Char Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dahaka Tribune

The last relocation voyage took place on April 21

After nearly a six-month pause, the government will resume the relocation of Rohingyas from the camps in Cox’s Bazar to Bhashan Char Island in the Bay of Bengal from Thursday.

On Wednesday, 1,800 to 2,000 Rohingyas will be transported from Cox’s Bazar to Chittagong, officials concerned told Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday.

After the overnight stay in Chittagong, the displaced people from Myanmar would make their way to Bhashan Char in ships belonging to the Bangladesh Navy on Thursday morning.

The last relocation voyage took place on April 21, 2021.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch, a New York-based international rights body, has called for halting the relocations to Bhashan Char until freedom of movement and other rights of Rohingyas are protected.

Also Read- UNHCR urges governments to accelerate progress, resolve plight of world’s stateless

“Yes, the relocation will begin on Thursday. About 2,000 people will travel to Bhashan Char by ships,” Additional Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Moazzem Hossain told Dhaka Tribune.

“They (Rohingyas) will be brought to Chittagong from Cox’s Bazar tomorrow (Wednesday). They will spend the night in Chittagong,” he said.    

“We have been informed that 1,800 to 2,000 Rohingyas will travel to Bhashan Char. The ships of Bangladesh Navy will start from Chittagong on Thursday morning,” an officer of Bangladesh Navy, which is facilitating the transportation, told this correspondent.

“There will be one ship for every 400 passengers,” he said.

These people will join with nearly 18,000 Rohingyas relocated earlier to Bhashan Char from December 4, 2020 to April 21, 2021.

Having been tasked by the government, the Bangladesh Navy developed the island at the cost of about Tk3,100 crore for the relocation of nearly 100,000 Rohingyas to decongest the camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Also Read- FM Momen: UN resolution on Rohingyas a pressure on Myanmar

The government is planning to reach its relocation target in next three to four months by transporting roughly 80,000 more Rohingyas.

The Thursday relocation trip will be the first one since the United Nations agreed to operationally engage with Bhashan Char by signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on October 9.

The UN is now looking into ways to engage with the operations in relation to Bhashan Char.

HRW calls for halting relocations

In a statement on Tuesday, the HRW said that Bangladesh authorities should halt relocations to Bhashan Char Island until freedom of movement and other rights of Rohingya refugees are protected.

These relocations would contravene the October 2021 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) signed with the Bangladesh government establishing a framework for UN support for refugee operations on Bhashan Char, it said.

Also Read- Momen: Hopeful of relocating 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhasan Char

The government should ensure that the UN refugee agency can fully support and protect Rohingya refugees living on Bhashan Char Island, the HRW said in a recent letter to donors.

Donors should insist that Bangladesh fully halt relocations until the UNHCR develops a process for ensuring free and informed consent, it said.

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