Bhasan Char teeming with activity as 1,642 Rohingyas reach the island

The Daily Star December 04, 2020

The island of Bhasan Char has been teeming with activity as 1,642 Rohingyas reached the island which was readied up for their relocation from Cox’s Bazar. 

Commodore AA Mamun Chowdhury said he expects international organisations like UNHCR and IOM will come and see the structures and facilities the government has arranged for Rohingyas.

“I hope they will also express their satisfaction once they see for themselves,” he said. In the last two and half years the char (island) witnessed cyclones such as Amphan and Bulbul but there was no damage, he added.

A total of 1,642 Rohingyas moved from Chattogram to Bhasan Char, an island in the Bay of Bengal under Hatiya upazila of Noakhali.

They were taken on seven vessels which started for the island around 9:00am while two other vessels carried goods, Lt Commander MK Zaman Shamim told The Daily Star.

Naval vessels Shah Paran and Shah Makhdum carrying 1,019 luggage reached Bhasan Char yesterday.

Earlier on Thursday, the Rohingyas reached Chattogram from Cox’s Bazar, where they have been staying since 2017. They stayed overnight at BF base Zahur in Chattogram.

The Navy prepared the Tk 3,100 crore housing project, funded with public money, after some 750,000 Rohingyas fled a brutal military campaign in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and took shelter in Cox’s Bazar in the months following August 2017.

They joined some 300,000 other Rohingyas, who had fled previous waves of violence in Rakhine.

The UN and various rights groups alleged that they have limited information about what has been going on and that the government has yet to allow a technical team to assess the feasibility of the housing project in Bhasan Char.

UN and rights groups have been questioning the idea of relocation to Bhasan Char, saying it is a low-lying isolated island and has risks of flooding, but at a point last year agreed to send a technical team to assess the condition and requested the government to allow the visit before relocation.

In a statement on Wednesday, the UN said it has limited information on the relocation exercise and has not been involved in the preparation process. It said it is ready for consultation with the government. The UN also said any relocation should be voluntary and all protection measures must be in place.

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