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Bhashan Char better for living but focus must be on Rohingya return

  • Published at 03:17 pm March 6th, 2021
rohingya camp
File photo of rohingyas living in camps are trapped there for long, people are born into camps, grow up in camps and become adults in camps Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

International community should support the relocation and put pressure on Myanmar to take back its people, experts tell a seminar

As compared with Cox’s Bazar, the Bhashan Char island is way better for the Rohingyas to live, but since the shelter is temporary the main focus must be given on the repatriation of the displaced people from Myanmar’s Rakhine, speakers told a seminar on Saturday.

Urging the international community not to oppose the government’s relocation plan, they requested them to put pressure on Myanmar to take its own people back with safety and dignity.

The Department of Peace and Conflict Studies of Dhaka University, in association with the Central Foundation for International and Strategic Studies (CFISS), organized the seminar to disseminate the findings of a research project titled ‘Relocation of the Rohingya Displaced People from Cox’s Bazar to Bhashan Char: Opportunities and Challenges’ at the Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban of Dhaka University.

Dhaka University Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Dr ASM Maksud Kamal was present as chief guest while CFISS’ Commodore (retd) MN Absar attended as special guest.

Dr Rafiqul Islam, lead researcher of the project, and a professor of the department of Peace and Conflict Studies at Dhaka University, began his introductory remarks saying that his team had tried their best to ensure the transparency of the research and that the Rohingyas had spontaneously participated in it.

His co-researcher, Dr Touhidul Islam, an associate professor of the same department, also shared the findings of the research portraying the comparison between the situation in the camps in Cox’s Bazar and Bhashan Char, which is already housing several thousands of Rohingyas. The government plans to relocate nearly 100,000 Rohingyas to the island developed by the Bangladesh Navy at a cost of nearly Tk 3,100 crore.    

In every aspect of life, like housing, living condition, health, education, safety and security, sanitation and livelihood, Bhashan Char is far better than Cox’s Bazar, said the researchers.

They also mentioned the negative attitude among the host communities towards the Rohingyas and the overall national security of the country.

The findings of the research also put forward some recommendations, including more efforts on securing drinking water, use of rain water and employment generation.

Taking part in the discussion, two experts said that the Island of Bhashan Char was stable, but it could be made more stable by taking some engineering measures.

Some of the measures are already underway, they said.