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1,200 Rohingyas to be shifted to Bhasan Char in December

  • Published at 03:27 pm November 25th, 2020
Bhashan Char rohingya
File photo: Forcibly displaced Rohingya refugees playing football at a refugee camp in Bhashan Char ISPR

23 local NGOs will also accompany the Rohingyas to the island

More than 1,200 Rohingyas from 500 families living in camps in Ukhia and Teknaf of Cox's Bazar will be shifted to Bhasan Char in the first week of December.

The decision was taken in an internal meeting at the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner's (RRRC) Office in Cox’s Bazar on Tuesday.

According to multiple sources at RRRC, the office has finalized the process of relocating about 500 Rohingya families to Bhasan Char in the first phase. The number of members of these 500 families is more than 1,200. 

Although the date has been changed from December 3 due to weather conditions, Rohingyas will be taken to Bhasan Char in the first week of December. Moreover, 23 local NGOs will also accompany them.

Additional RRRC Md Shamsu Douza said their office is always ready to send Rohingyas to Bhasan Char. However, he was unable to provide any information on when, how, and how many Rohingyas will be shifted to Bhasan Char.

“The RRRC office is working to send Rohingyas to Bhasan Char on the instructions of the government,” Md Shamsu added.

A source in the RRRC office said: "A group of Rohingya leaders has already visited Bhasan Char. Although some of the Rohingya leaders disagreed, most of the Rohingya leaders and ordinary Rohingyas were ready to go to Bhasan Char.”

Meanwhile, a new list demanding food and non-food items for relocating Rohingyas to Bhasan Char has been added to the official website of RRRC on Tuesday.

Various NGOs have also asked the government to submit projects (food and non-food) to conduct possible assistance activities after the relocation of Rohingyas to Bhasan Char.

On November 16, a 32-member delegation of officials from 22 NGOs visited Bhasan Char and said that a very conducive environment has been created for the Rohingyas to live there. 

There are adequate measures to deal with disasters, including their comfortable living and livelihood. Bhasan Char will be much better than the way the Rohingyas are living in Cox's Bazar at present, said the delegates.

After a recent visit to Bhasan Char, Chittagong Range Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Md Anwar Hossain said: "Police are taking care of security in Bhasan Char. Therefore, a battalion of police will be formed there. For further security, the island has been visited and discussions have been held with the officials there.”

Shelter project in Bhasan Char

In 2015, building housing for refugees in Bhasan Char was first planned. At that time there was no settlement in the char. More than 700,000 Rohingyas fled Myanmar to Teknaf and Ukhia in Cox's Bazar in 2017 after renewed violence against Rohingyas in Rakhine. 

Initiatives were then taken to build infrastructure at Bhasan Char to reduce the pressure on Cox's Bazar. As part of this, the government has implemented a shelter project in Bhasan Char at a cost of Tk2,312 crore from its own funds for the relocation of Rohingyas. 

In order to protect 40 sq km area from tides and tidal surges, 13 km long embankment and infrastructure of 120 cluster villages suitable for 100,000 Rohingyas have been constructed. 

At a meeting of the National Economic Council in December last year, the cost of the project for Bhasan Char was increased by Tk783 crore to Tk3,095 crore. The extra money will increase the height of the dam from 10ft to 19ft, increase ancillary facilities, and build a building and jetty for the UN delegations.

On August 25, 2017, more than 750,000 Rohingyas took refuge in Bangladesh in the face of horrific torture by the Myanmar government. A large number of Rohingyas also took refuge earlier. At present their number is at least 1.1 million. 

The Bangladesh government, with the help of the United Nations and other countries, has set up camps in Ukhia and Teknaf of Cox's Bazar and given them shelter, but has always demanded Myanmar to take them back.

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