Int'l agencies, NGOs hindering relocation efforts, says foreign minister
Bangladesh wants to begin relocation of Rohingyas to Bhashan Char soon as the government finds the weather and overall environment suitable for such relocation, officials said.
The relocation is likely to begin this month as the weather is improving, a senior official told UNB.
However, no date is fixed yet to begin relocation of Rohingyas to Bhashan Char, he said.
The government says Bhashan Char is built in such a beautiful way with many facilities in place and Rohingyas will never try to return once they go there.
Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar camps in a very congested way. Some 100,000 Rohingyas will be shifted to Bhashan Char.
"The Rohingya women have opened parlour in Bhashan Char who are staying there. It's a very beautiful place. Once someone goes there, he or she doesn't want to return," said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Sunday.
More than 300 Rohingyas are now living in Bhashan Char.
He said the government wants to reduce the risk of deaths due to landslides in Rohingya camps during the rainy season easing the burden on congested Cox's Bazar camps.
Momen said if any Rohingya dies due to landslides, all will create noise saying Bangladesh killed Rohingyas. "That's why Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken the decision to relocate."
The foreign minister said Rohingyas are getting involved in drug peddling and trafficking in persons in Cox's Bazar camps.
But if they go to Bhashan Char, Rohingyas will get an opportunity to get involved in economic activities, he said.
In Rajshahi, the foreign minister said international agencies and some NGOs are encouraging Rohingyas not to go to Bhashan Char.
"We believe Rohingyas will go to Bhashan Char," he said adding that they are taking Rohingyas there first to see the facilities.
Media outlets visit Bhashan Char
Several Bangladeshi media outlets have recently visited Bhashan Char and found the facilities there far better than the Cox's Bazar camps.
Meanwhile, a joint letter on the Bhashan Char issue, written to Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on September 21, was publicly released on Thursday.
David Griffiths, director of the Office of the Secretary General of Amnesty International, Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former assistant secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, Matthew Smith, CEO of Fortify Rights, and Teddy Baguilat, executive director of Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights, former MP of the Philippines wrote the letter.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) Board Chair Charles Santiago has urged Bangladesh to allow human rights groups to Bhashan Char to assess the facilities and meet with Rohingyas there.
The foreign minister recently said Rohingyas will "jeopardize regional and international security" if the 1.1 million Rohingya people are left unattended and not given the opportunity to return to their homeland.
Repatriation attempts were failed twice in November 2018 and August 2019 amid Rohingyas' "lack of trust" on the Myanmar government.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017.
On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement,” which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.