News   /   More

Bangladesh moves more Rohingya refugees to remote island

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A convoy of buses transports Rohingya refugees in Ukhia, Bangladesh, December 28, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Bangladesh has started relocating a second group of Rohingya refugees to a controversial remote, flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal despite international criticism.

The relocation of Rohingya Muslims to Bhashan Char had already been planned to ease overcrowding in refugee camps at the district of Cox’s Bazaar, on the border with Myanmar.

Buses on Monday transferred the Rohingya group from camps to the Chittagong port, where they will be taken to the barren island.

Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen said only fewer than 1,000 people were in the latest batch heading for what he described as a ‘beautiful resort.’ 

Those who criticize the refugee transfer are merely ‘making up stories,’ the minister said.

“They are going voluntarily. They are very eager to go to Bhashan Char because they have heard from their relatives, those who have gone to Bhashan Char, that (it) is an excellent place.”

“Bhashan Char is a beautiful resort. It is an excellent resort. And once anybody goes there, they will love it,” said the Bangladeshi minister. 

Human rights groups say the relocation is “coercive.”

Moreover, after the first transfer on December 4, several Rohingya said they had been intimidated into concession to move.

More than 300 refugees were brought to the island earlier this year after spending several months at sea while attempting to flee Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh government eventually wants to place 100,000 Rohingya on the 13,000-acre (56 square-kilometer) island.

Amnesty International’s South Asia campaigner Saad Hammadi said on Monday, “Allegations from within the community about cash incentives being offered to Rohingya families to relocate to Bhashan Char as well as use of intimidation tactics are making the relocation process questionable.”

Some of the Rohingya men in the latest group, however, said they were going to the island willingly to reunite with their relatives who were earlier moved there.

Some Bangladeshi government sources have said the refugees were being moved because there was little prospect of repatriating them to Myanmar.

The refugees being relocated are among more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled a state-sponsored crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku