Bangladesh has begun settling Rohingya families from camps near the Myanmar border on the remote island, despite concerns about its security and lack of consent from refugees.
Families can be seen loading white sacks in buses that arrived at night on Wednesday and took them by boat to the port city of Chasgaon to transfer them to Bhasan Char. Regional police chief Anwar Hussain told AFP that about 1,000 people had already been transferred.
Bangladesh said it planned to relocate 2,500 families, but rights groups say the refugees were listed without their consent. He called on Bangladesh to stop the transfer to allow independent inspection of the island.
Amnesty International’s South Asia campaigner, Saad Hammadi, said: “It is important that Bangladeshi authorities first assess the habits of Bhushan Char before the UN, rights groups and humanitarian agencies take any steps to move people there.” Let it be done. There is no rehabilitation plan at Bhushan Char or any other place, which can be done without the full and informed consent of the persons involved. ”
Refugees in Kutupalong say people are worried, as they have started living close to their homes, and all transportation inside the camps has been banned by the authorities.
Since April, around 300 Rohingya buffalo have been living on the chara, sent there after being picked up at sea. Allegations of sexual harassment accusations have been made after a delegation of camp leaders in Bangladesh visited the island in September, and the video allowed women to scream and return.
Built only 20 years ago by the construction of silt in the Bay of Bengal, exposure to Bhasan Char for extreme weather and distance from the mainland has caused concern since Bangladesh first took up the idea in 2015.
The Rohingya strongly opposed the relocations themselves, but more than 700,000 refugees fled Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing three years ago, many being exhausted by conditions in crowded settlements.
Mohammed Haneef, 40, a resident of Kutupalang Camp, the world’s largest refugee camp, said: “We went to the island and I am very satisfied with the arrangement there. They have better accommodation, mosques and madrasas, markets. And the government promised That there will be no shortage of assistance and assistance from the United Nations and other agencies. “
Hanif said his wife and children were worried about moving forward, but were convinced after being told about the facilities available.
He said he was told that similar NGOs working in mainland camps would also help Bhasan Char. However, the UN has not yet agreed to operate on the island, and in a statement on Wednesday, UNHCR said it was not involved in the relocation and called for Bangladesh to conduct an immediate assessment of the island.
Bangladesh has insisted the new housing on Bhasan Char is a better coax market is a bamboo shelter, and it has avoided flooding.
“We were told that the island would also have members from Bangladeshi authorities. Hanif said that whatever obstacles we face on the island, Bangladeshis will also have to face… so I think the island should have facilities to survive in poor climatic conditions. “The officials told us that the Bangladeshi government has done a lot for us and they have given us shelter and food, they expect us to follow their plan. Because it is for our own good. “
Human Rights Watch and Bangkok-based advocacy group Fortiff Rights said they had talked to the refugees, who had been hiding since their names were on the list. He also warned the ambassador to make false promises and threatened to force consent.
Mohammad Anees, 33, said he had decided against leaving because he did not want to stay in Bangladesh for long. “I don’t want to go to the island. And I don’t know if anyone from my block wants to go, ”said Anoop, a moth in Kutupalong. “We do not believe they can force this many people to move against their will under the supervision of the international community. Our demand is only rational and that is to bring us back to Myanmar, we will be refugees throughout our lives Don’t want to be. “
There are more than one million Rohingya refugees living in the Cox’s Bazar area, who came to Myanmar’s Rakhine state in the early 1990s after a spate of violence.