Rohingyans to relocate to Bhashan Char island soon after Monsoon

Bangladesh is planning to start the process of relocating Rohingya refugees from the crowded camps of Cox’s Bazar to the newly built facility at Bhashan Char island after the monsoon session.

Announcing this in Dhaka on Monday during a webinar, the Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh Masud Bin Momen said that the government is planning to take relatives of the 306 Rohingya refugees already settled there and other representative to show the facilities available on the Bhashan Char for the people to be settled there. He said, if they find the place better than the cramped Cox’s Bazar, the initial transfer of Rohingyas may commence after the Monsoon season.

Refuting the concerns of some Human rights groups, environmentalists and NGOs about the fragility of the Bhashan Char, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said that the recent Amphan cyclone has proved the durability of the Bhashan char island and the strength of the structures built there.

Foreign Secretary Momen also completely ruled out the possibility of local integration of Rohingyas in Bangladesh. He said that more than a million refugees are putting tremendous pressure on resources of the area. It has also disturbed the local demographic profile.

He also called upon the international community to put pressure on Myanmar to ensure sustainable return of Rohingya refugees with safety, security and dignity to Rakhine state.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen announced that despite concerns about security and law and order, the government of Bangladesh has decided to allow 3G/4G connectivity in the Rohingya camps soon in view of the Corona pandemic.

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. The issue of forced relocation and lack of mobility on the island has also been raised by organisations working among the Rohingyas. In April this year, 306 Rohingyas rescued off a boat from the Bay of Bengal were taken to the Bhashan Char and settled there.

Cox’s Bazar area of Bangladesh houses close to one million Rohingya refugees who fled after the military crackdown in the Rakhine province of Myanmar in 2017.