Bangladesh on Sunday began relocating another 3,000 Rohingya refugees to a remote island, despite opposition from the UN and rights groups, Anadolu Agency reported.
It is hosting more than a million Rohingya Muslims at cramped makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar, which is considered the world’s largest refugee settlement. Most have fled violence following a military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in 2017.
The refugees will reach Bhasan Char by Monday, Mohammad Shamsud Douza, additional commissioner of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation, told Anadolu Agency. “It is part of a plan to gradually shift around 100,000 refugees.”
The island, where 7,000 refugees have already been moved, is said to be flood-prone. Rights groups have been calling for the process to be suspended before a complete feasibility report on the habitability and protection of the island has been carried out.
“The refugees are afraid of being isolated,” Ro Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the UK-based Free Rohingya Coalition, told Anadolu Agency over the phone. “The relocation can hamper their repatriation to Myanmar.”
Their repatriation is already uncertain following the Feb. 1 military coup in Myanmar.
Meanwhile, the government claims the island is safe and is also planning a visit of foreign diplomats to inspect the arrangements worth $350 million, i.e. 1,400 big cluster houses four feet above the ground with concrete blocks, 120 multi-story cyclone shelters, etc.