The Bangladeshi authorities have again relocated the Rohingya from an overcrowded refugee camp on the mainland to Bhasan Shar Island. There are serious concerns about this transportation, as the island is prone to flooding. More than 1,800 people were transported in five ships this morning.
At the beginning of December, naval ships had already transported around 1,600 Rohingya to the island. The government of Bangladesh wants to house a total of 100,000 Rohingya on the island to relieve overcrowded refugee camps on the mainland.
According to Bangladesh, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in building homes, hospitals, dams, mosques and shelters. According to the foreign minister, the refugees are voluntarily heading to the “beautiful resorts” that have been built there and the island is “completely safe.” But some refugees from the first group said they had been forced into it.
Human rights activists and aid organizations are highly critical of the resettlement program. The island did not exist until twenty years ago. It originated from sediments of the Himalayas, which ended up in the Bay of Bengal via rivers.
Bangladesh has set up a steel barrier and the presence of shelters will make the island safe enough. But the United Nations and human rights organizations fear that thousands of people will die in a hurricane in the region.
About a million Rohingya fled the neighboring country, Myanmar. There they are tried. Myanmar, which is predominantly Buddhist, does not recognize the nationality of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority. Many people fled to Bangladesh.