Bangladesh starts relocation of Rohingyas to the newly developed facility at Bhashan Char Island

Going ahead with its plan to shift the Rohingyas from Cox’s Bazar refugee camp, the Bangladesh government on Thursday started the process of relocating them to the newly developed facility at the Bhashan char Island.

Hundreds of Rohingyas were transported on buses from the Ukhiya Degree College campus in Cox’s Bazar to Chattogram port for being taken to the Bhashan char Island, reports the Reuters. It quoted government officials saying that the process was voluntary. Additional Commissioner of the Office for Refugee Relief and Repatriation Mohammad Shamsud Douza told Reuters that the refugees are going to Bhashan char happily. He said government has taken all measures to deal with disasters, including their comfortable living and livelihood

The elite police force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), police and other law enforcement agencies were deployed to provide security during the process of relocation.

However, there has been no official confirmation about the relocation process and the number of refugees being taken to the Bhashan char facility.

The UN on Wednesday offered to engage in constructive consultations aimed at better understanding the relocation plan process and operational issues. It also insisted that the Rohingyas who choose to move to Bhashan char should have basic human rights including the freedom of movement to and from the mainland as well as access to education,health care and livelihood opportunities, reported the official news agency BSS.

International Human Rights groups are opposing the relocation of Rohingyas to the Bhashan Char. They demand independent assessment of the liveability on the Bhashan char by the UN and humanitarian agencies before the process is started.

Bhashan char is an uninhabited island where the government of Bangladesh has made shelter houses for one lakh Rohingya refugees at an estimated cost of Tk. 2,300 crore. The environmentalists say that the Bhashan char falls in an ecologically fragile area prone to floods, erosion and cyclones. In April this year, 306 Rohingyas rescued off a boat in the Bay of Bengal were taken to the Bhashan Char and settled there.

Currently more than a million Rohingya are living in refugee camps in Bangladesh after fleeing the military crackdown in the Rakhine province of Myanmar in August 2017.