• Sunday, Nov 29, 2020
  • Last Update : 05:18 am

ED: A better home for the Rohingya

  • Published at 09:52 pm October 19th, 2020
Bhashan Char
Photo: COURTESY

In spite of criticisms, then, it is clear that the Bhashan Char project is a remarkable achievement

From its very inception, the plan to relocate Rohingya refugees to Bhashan Char has been fraught with controversy. But now that the facilities on Bhashan Char island have been developed, can be inspected, and are fully ready for the relocation of a hundred thousand Rohingya, one thing is clear: These accommodations are far superior to the current conditions of the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Journalists have inspected the place upon invitation from the government, and have found the area to be objectively a significant step up from present conditions. Indeed, significant investment has gone into Bhashan Char: Nearly Tk3,100 crore have been poured into the infrastructure, which threatens to fall into disrepair if relocation does not take place soon.

The amenities at Bhashan Char are well thought-out, and of a fairly high standard, with all the buildings having been constructed four feet above ground, with houses organized into clusters, and each cluster having its own shelter station. The shelter stations are designed to withstand natural calamities, and there are places where animals can be kept as well.

Furthermore, there are hospitals, community clinics, and a police station. Separate toilets for men and women, and proper waste management systems are in place. Electricity will be generated through solar power, and charcoal and LPG will be used for cooking. Spaces have been allocated as playgrounds for Rohingya children, something that is a far cry in the current camps, and indeed in our congested cities.

In spite of criticisms, then, it is clear that the Bhashan Char project is a remarkable achievement, and a workable solution to one of the most daunting humanitarian challenges in the world today.

If the international community wishes to help in this regard, it should step up with resources, or offer to take in refugees. Instead, so far, they have only offered unconstructive criticism, doing little to alleviate the situation on the ground.

Bangladesh stepped up to this challenge by opening its doors to the Rohingya when other countries stayed silent or refused to act. Bhashan Char is a thoughtful, constructive solution, and as a sovereign nation, Bangladesh should be allowed to implement this plan without undue interference. 

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