Bangladesh to send more Rohingya refugees to remote island despite criticism

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Jan 27, 2021, 07.56 PM(IST)

File photo of Rohingya refugees being taken to remote Bhasan Char island Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Bangladesh justifies the move to the island saying overcrowding in the camps in Cox's Bazar is leading to crimes

Bangladesh is preparing to move 2000-3000 more Rohingya refugees to the Bhasan Char, a remote Bay of Bengal island that critics say is vulnerable to storms and flooding. Bangladesh has already relocated about 3500 Rohingya refugees on the island since early December.

Bhasan Char island emerged from the sea only two decades ago. One has to travel by boat from Chittagong for several hours in order to reach the island. 

"Most probably, they will be taken to Chittagong tomorrow and the next day, they will be sent to Bhasan Char from there," Navy Commodore Abdullah Al Mamun Chowdhury told Reuters.

"Last time, we had preparations for 700 to 1,000 but finally more than 1,800 Rohingya moved there. People who moved earlier are calling their relatives and friends to go there. That's why more people are going there."

The move to send Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh has drawn criticism. Bangladesh justifies the move to the island saying overcrowding in the camps in Cox's Bazar is leading to crimes.

It also dismisses concerns of floods, citing the construction of a 2-metre (6.5 feet) embankment for 12 km (7.5 miles) to protect the island along with housing for 100,000 people, as well as facilities such as cyclone centres and hospitals.

Its actions, nevertheless, have attracted criticism from relief agencies that had not been consulted on the previous transfers. The UNHCR did not immediately respond to a query from Reuters on the latest planned movement.

U.S.-based advocacy group Refugees International has said the plan is "short-sighted and inhumane" while the Fortify Rights Group said the relocations may be "coerced and involuntary" and should cease immediately.

Read in App