Despite rights issues, Bangladesh moves more Rohingyas to remote islands

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Activists say the island of Bhasan Char is not secure and refugees are being resettled against their will.

Despite security concerns from foreign human rights groups, Bangladesh has begun relocating the second group of Rohingya refugees from overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal. Groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have called on the government of Bangladesh to avoid the Rohingya’s relocation to Bhasan Char because the island is just a few hours away from the mainland by ferry, is vulnerable to floods, is subject to regular cyclones, and could be fully flooded. There are also fears that the Rohingya, already displaced by ethnic cleansing from Myanmar, may have been bribed to move to the island or subjected to coercion tactics to get them to do so. The Rohingya genocide in Myanmar is not over, rights group saysRead more International rights organizations believe that refugees have been identified without their permission and have called on Bangladesh to all At the beginning of December, the first group of 1,642 Rohingya refugees is resettled on the island. Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star told Abdullah Al Mamun Chowdhury, a senior police officer and director of the Bhasan Char project, that on Dec. 28 and 29, about 700 to 1,000 Rohingya refugees would be brought to the island and that Bhasan Char was ready to receive the new arrivals. Saad Hammadi, South Asia campaign director of Amnesty International, said concerns about the resettlement to Bhashan Char stem from a “lack of understanding of the guarantees of human rights there, including access to health care and the right to freedom of movement between the island and Cox’s Bazar.” HRW said earlier this month in a statement that there was little information on the actual condition of the island. There were hundreds of millions of dollars spent on it.

Made obviously for #Rohingya #refugees – but I’m not persuaded. Pic.twitter.com/94sZa5Qh2l- Shafiur Rahman 26 December 2020 Shafiur Rahman (@shafiur)
The Bangladeshi government has, however, denied that there are any grounds for concern.

Mostafizur Rahman, permanent representative of Bangladesh and ambassador to the U.N. The Geneva office said the Rohingya were voluntarily resettled and that the government has taken steps to improve their quality of life, livelihood and safety. The deputy government official in charge of refugees, Mohammed Shamsud Douza, said a 12-km dam was constructed to protect the island from flooding, along with housing for 100,000 people.

The relocation is voluntary: “No one is forced to go there,” he said, adding that with improved access to health care and education, people can live a better life there.

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