About 87 per cent of Rohingyas who have entered Bangladesh fleeing violence and persecution in Rakhine State of Myanmar are unwilling to go to Bhasanchar Island from Cox’s Bazar camps, says a recent police report.
Cox’s Bazar district special branch of police on June 26 sent the report to its headquarters for the Prime Minister Office about their internal survey on whether Rohingyas were willing to be relocated to the island.
The government would, however, take a cross section of people, including Rohingya representatives, to show actual condition of the island, head of refugee affairs at disaster management and relief ministry Muhammad Habibul Kabir Chowdhury.
The decision was made at meeting of a joint committee. Formed to oversee Rohingya relocation to Bhasanchar, with principal sectary to the prime minister Nojibur Rahman on August 8, said Muhammad Habibul, a member of the committee who attended the meeting.
He also said that the committee would visit the island and report to the government whether it was habitable.
The Prime Minister’s Office instituted the 10-member joint committee – five from government officials and five from UN agencies – headed by disaster management and relief ministry additional secretary Muhammad Mohsin.
The five UN body representatives were, however, not invited to the August 8 meeting, said officials concerned.
In November 2017, Bangladesh Navy floated tenders for the construction of a ‘rehabilitation centre’ at Bhasanchar of Hatiya in Noakhali to relocate Rohingyas.
The police report, meanwhile, said that hardly 13 per cent of the Rohingyas were willing to be relocated to Bhasanchar and the rest 87 per cent wanted to stay at Ukhiya and Tekhnaf camps in Cox’s Bazar.
It mentioned 10 causes Rohingyas showed for the unwillingness, including isolation of the location, fear of relief and medications facilities being hampered and isolation from their relatives.
‘Many Rohingyas earn livelihood by catching fishes and crabs and they believe they will not get similar opportunities on the island,’ the report read.
Many Rohingya are getting employed staying at Ukhiya and Tekhnaf by different UN agencies and NGOs, which they might not get at Bhasanchar, it said.
‘Most of us do not want to go to Bhasanchar considering cyclone and other vulnerabilities,’ said Muhammad Ali, head majhi (leader) at camp-13 at Thynkhali-Tanzimarkhola of Ukhiya.
‘There will be cyclone centre for them with every facility. They will be given better livelihood and access to justice,’ Mohammad Habibul said.
Home minister, Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal along with senior security officials visited Bhasanchar on September 28, 2017.
On September 10, 2017, relief and disaster management minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya said that they were considering relocating Rohingyas at Thengar Char, now renamed as Bhasanchar, until their repatriation to Myanmar.
More than 7,20,000 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh since August 25, 2017 adding to about 4,00,000 Rohingyas already living in overflowing UN-run camps in Cox’s Bazar, close to the border with Myanmar.
Bhasanchar, which is located in the estuary of the Meghna river, is a one-hour boat ride from Sandwip, the nearest inhabited island, and two hours from Hatiya, one of the country’s largest islands.
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