Bangladesh rules out UN concern over Rohingya relocation to Bhasan Char

Staff Correspondent | Published: 11:16, Mar 13,2019 | Updated: 17:27, Mar 13,2019


Bangladesh has ruled out United Nations concern over Rohingya relocation in Bhasan Char saying that accommodation of the refugees is the country’s internal affair.

Liberation war affairs minister AKM Mozammel Haq said this while presiding over a cabinet committee meeting on law and order held in Dhaka on Wednesday adding that all the preparations were completed in Bhasan Char to relocate Rohingya refugees there.

He also said that a section of non-governmental organisations was working in Rohingya camps with ill motives.

Mozammel Haq, also head of the cabinet committee on law and order, directed the intelligent agencies to collect details of those NGOs.

Yanghee Lee, UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, has voiced deep concern on Monday over Bangladesh’s plan to relocate 23,000 Rohingya refugees in April to a remote island, saying it may not be habitable and could create a potential ‘new crisis’.

Bangladesh says moving refugees to Bhasan Char — whose name means ‘floating island’ — will ease chronic overcrowding in its camps at Cox’s Bazar, which hold some 730,000 Rohingya. The UN says the Muslim minority fled mass killings and rapes committed during an army crackdown in Rakhine state since August 2017.

 ‘There are a number of things that remain unknown to me even following my visit, chief among them being whether the island is truly habitable,’ said Lee.

The government in early 2018 formed a 10-member committee headed by disaster management and relief ministry additional secretary Muhammad Mohsin to decide if Bhasan Char was suitable for the relocation.
The committee consists of five members each from the Bangladesh government and the United Nations.

In late June, Special Branch of the police in Cox’s Bazar prepared a report for the Prime Minister’s Office that stated that hardly 13 per cent Rohingays were willing to be relocated to Bhasanchar, while the remaining 87 per cent were willing to stay at Ukhiya and Tekhnaf in Cox’s Bazar.

The report gave 10 reasons for Rohingyas not willing to be relocated at Bhasanchar, including the site’s isolation, which might limit their access to medicine and other relief supplies and separate them from relatives.

About 700,000 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh fleeing military crackdown in northern Rakhine State of Myanmar since August 2017, taking to about 1.14 million the number of Rohingya population in Cox’z Bazar.

Bangladesh has asked the United Nations to help fund the relocation plan.

Bhasan Char is a one-hour boat ride from Sandwip, the nearest inhabited island, and two hours from Hatiya, one of Bangladesh’s largest islands.


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