Bangladesh begins relocating Rohingya refugees to island

Bangladesh begins relocating Rohingya refugees to island

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Authorities in Bangladesh have begun relocating 1000’s of Rohingya refugees to an remoted island regardless of calls by human rights teams for a halt to the method, officers stated Thursday.

The United Nations has additionally voiced concern that refugees be allowed to make a “free and knowledgeable choice” about whether or not to relocate to the island within the Bay of Bengal.

The island’s services are constructed to accommodate 100,000 individuals, only a fraction of the million Rohingya Muslims who’ve fled waves of violent persecution of their native Myanmar and are at the moment dwelling in crowded, squalid refugee camps.

On Thursday, 11 passenger buses carrying refugees left Cox’s Bazar district on the best way to the island, the place they’re anticipated to reach after an in a single day stopover, a authorities official concerned with the method stated on situation of anonymity as a result of he was not licensed to talk to the media.

He stated “just a few thousand” refugees had been within the first batch. Authorities in Cox’s Bazar didn’t say how the refugees had been chosen for relocation.

About 700,000 Rohingya fled to the camps in Cox’s Bazar after August 2017, when the navy in Buddhist-majority Myanmar started a harsh crackdown on the Muslim group following an assault by insurgents. The crackdown included rapes, killings and the torching of 1000’s of houses, and was termed ethnic cleaning by international rights teams and the U.N.

International media haven’t been permitted to go to the island, referred to as Bhashan Char, or floating island. It was as soon as frequently submerged by monsoon rains however now has flood safety embankments, homes, hospitals and mosques constructed at a price of greater than $112 million by the Bangladesh navy.

Situated 21 miles (34 kilometers) from the mainland, the island surfaced solely 20 years in the past and was by no means inhabited.

Contractors say its infrastructure is sort of a trendy township, with multifamily concrete houses, colleges, playgrounds and roads. It additionally has solar-power services, a water provide system and cyclone shelters.

Worldwide help businesses and the U.N. have vehemently opposed the relocation because it was first proposed in 2015, expressing concern {that a} large storm might overwhelm the island and endanger 1000’s of lives.

The U.N. stated in an announcement Wednesday that it has not been concerned in preparations for the relocation or the choice of refugees and has restricted details about the general plan.

“The United Nations takes this chance to spotlight its longstanding place that Rohingya refugees should have the ability to make a free and knowledgeable choice about relocating to Bhasan Char based mostly upon related, correct and up to date data,” it stated.

Amnesty Worldwide and Human Rights Watch on Thursday urged the federal government to cancel the relocation plan.

The present refugee camps close to the city of Cox’s Bazar are overcrowded and unhygienic. Illness and arranged crime are rampant. Schooling is proscribed and refugees aren’t allowed to work.

Nonetheless, most Rohingya are unwilling to return to Myanmar attributable to security considerations. Authorities officers didn’t have an estimate of what number of refugees can be prepared to be relocated to the island.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has repeatedly informed the U.N. and different worldwide companions that her administration would seek the advice of them earlier than making a closing choice on the relocation, and that no refugees can be pressured to maneuver.

Bangladesh tried to start out sending refugees again to Myanmar below a bilateral framework final November, however nobody was prepared to go.

The Rohingya aren’t acknowledged as residents in Myanmar, rendering them stateless, and face different types of state-sanctioned discrimination.

A U.N.-sponsored investigation in 2018 advisable the prosecution of Myanmar’s prime navy commanders on costs of genocide, warfare crimes and crimes towards humanity for the violence towards the Rohingya.

Myanmar is defending itself within the Worldwide Court docket of Justice within the Hague, Netherlands, after the West African nation of Gambia introduced a case backed by the Group for Islamic Cooperation, Canada and the Netherlands over the crackdown.

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