General

Rohingya relocation to Bhasan Char likely to begin soon

Bangladesh wants to begin relocation of Rohingyas to Bhasan Char soon as the government finds the weather and overall environment suitable for such relocation, officials said.

The relocation is likely to begin this month as the weather is improving, a senior official told UNB.

However, no date is fixed yet to begin relocation of Rohingyas to Bhasan Char, he said.

The government says Bhasan Char is built in such a beautiful way with many facilities in place and Rohingyas will never try to return once they go there.

Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar camps in a very congested way. Some 100,000 Rohingyas will be shifted to Bhasan Char.

“The Rohingya women have opened parlour in Bhasan Char who are staying there. It’s a very beautiful place. Once someone goes there, he or she doesn’t want to return,” said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Sunday.

More than 300 Rohingyas are now living in Bhasan Char.

He said the government wants to reduce the risk of deaths due to landslides in Rohingya camps during rainy season easing burden on congested Cox’s Bazar camps.

Dr Momen said if any Rohingya dies due to landslides, all will create noise saying Bangladesh killed Rohingyas. “That’s why Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken the decision to relocate.”

The Foreign Minister said Rohingyas are getting involved in drug peddling and trafficking in persons in Cox’s Bazar camps.

But if they go to Bhasan Char, Rohingyas will get opportunity to get involved in economic activities, he said.

In Rajshahi, the Foreign Minister said international agencies and some NGOs are encouraging Rohingyas not to go to Bhasan Char.

“We believe Rohingyas will go to Bhasan Char,” he said adding that they are taking Rohingyas there first to see the facilities.

Several Bangladeshi media outlets have recently visited Bhasan Char and found the facilities there far better than the Cox’s Bazar camps.

Meanwhile, a joint letter on Bhasan Char issue, written to Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on September 21, was publicly released on Thursday.

David Griffiths, Director of the Office of the Secretary General, Amnesty International, Eric Schwartz, President, Refugees International, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Kerry Kennedy, President, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Matthew Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Fortify Rights and Teddy Baguilat, Executive Director, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, former Member of Parliament of the Philippines wrote the letter.

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) Board Chair Charles Santiago has urged Bangladesh to allow human rights groups to Bhasan Char to assess the facilities and meet with Rohingyas there.

Also read: Rohingya Repatriation: Why Suu Kyi unlikely to change her position

The Foreign Minister recently said Rohingyas will “jeopardise regional and international security” if the 1.1 million Rohingya people are left unattended and not given the opportunity to return to their homeland.

Repatriation attempts were failed twice in November 2018 and August 2019 amid Rohingyas’ “lack of trust” on the Myanmar government.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017.

On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.

Source: United News of Bangladesh