Rohingya Refugee Relocation in Bhashan Char - Act for Displaced

After a military crackdown by the armed forces of Myanmar, millions of Rohingyas the Muslim minority group of the Rakhine state fled and took shelter in the neighboring country Bangladesh. At least 723,000 Rohingyas have crossed the border to escape the violence and prosecution by the military forces of Myanmar. The armed forces have killed several Rohingya families. After losing their houses, lands, and properties, they crossed the border to protect their families and children. This is one of the greatest humanitarian crises and gaining international attention since they have been sheltered by Bangladesh. The crisis is one of the mass displacements of recent time and claimed overwhelming political and media attention from all over the world. Currently, the country is hosting around 1 million Rohingya refugees.

To host the refugees Bangladesh government is providing them not only life-sustaining assistance but also a life that will they remember a lifetime and be grateful for. They need much more than basic support. They don’t want to live under fear. Many long to return but fear further violence and persecution back home. All they want is a dignified life where all their rights will be provided within their motherland. The UN agencies and over 130 local, national, and international NGOs have supported the Government of Bangladesh to provide life-sustaining assistance.

Recently the government of Bangladesh has started relocating the refugees in Bhashan Char. Bhasan Char, also known as Char Piya, is an island in Hatiya Upazila, Banglades in the southeast part of the country. It spans 40 square kilometers. According to the authority the refugees were living in a congested area in the camps of Cox’s Bazaar, considering the facts of excessive pressure on the local resources of the area. The government has planned to relocate over 100,000 Rohingyas to the island, where family-wise relocation is the priority. In the first phase, 1642 Rohingyas were sent successfully and another batch of them can be relocated on 29th December. Though there has been severe criticism against the government’s initiative of relocation plans. According to authorities no one forced the refugees rather taking their consent before sending them to the island. The total cost of the refugee housing project in Bhashan Char is 3,100 crore taka housing project.

International bodies like Amnesty International have shown concern over this matter, according to its South Asia regional campaigner Saad Hammadi, “authorities must let UN, Rights groups carry out independent assessments of Bhashan Char’s habitability first.”

Despite the concern of international bodies like Amnesty International and the United Nations, the government of Bangladesh continued with the relocation process due to the congested settlement in Cox’s Bazaar camps. This process will ease the burden in those camps. However, the international bodies are in fear as hundreds of Rohingyas may be affected by extreme floods and cyclones in the low-lying island.

On the other hand in Myanmar, where the Muslim Rohingyas used to live for years is now transformed into government barracks. The villages of Rohingyas have been demolished by the military forces of Myanmar so there is no way for them to return and have a life like before. So, the refugees’ future is still uncertain.

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