BD sends more Rohingya refugees to remote island despite criticism

Published January 31, 2021
Rohingya refugees sit on wooden benches of a navy vessel on their way to the Bhasan Char island in Noakhali district, Bangladesh, December 29, 2020. — Reuters/File
Rohingya refugees sit on wooden benches of a navy vessel on their way to the Bhasan Char island in Noakhali district, Bangladesh, December 29, 2020. — Reuters/File

DHAKA: More than 1,400 Rohingya Muslim refugees were relocated to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal on Saturday, despite opposition from human rights groups concerned about the site’s vulnerability to storms and flooding.

Including a similar sized group who were moved on Friday, it brings to around 6,700 the number of Rohingya refugees that Bangladesh has moved to the island of Bhasan Char since December.

Bangladesh says the relocation is voluntary, but some of the first group of refugees who were relocated spoke of being coerced. The government also says overcrowding in refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar district fuels crime.

“This time we have received a total 3,242 Rohingya in two days. Everyone is happy with the arrangements here,” Navy Commodore Abdullah Al Mamun Chowdhury, the officer in charge of the island, said.

Five ships moved 1,466 Rohingya and their belongings on Saturday after they were transferred from the camps to Chittagong, he said.

The Rohingya, a minority group who fled violence in neighbouring Buddhist-majority Myanmar, are not allowed to move off the island, which is several hours’ journey away from the southern port.

The Dhaka government wants to move 10 percent of the 1 million refugees living in ramshackle border camps.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2021

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