Rights groups decry Bangladesh moving Rohingya refugees to remote island News
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Rights groups decry Bangladesh moving Rohingya refugees to remote island

Amidst outcry from international human rights groups, Bangladeshi naval ships on Thursday started shifting the first batch of Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char, a remote island located in the Bay of Bengal.

Bangladesh currently hosts around 1.1 million Rohingyas out of which it plans to relocate around 100,000 to Bhasan Char. The reasons cited are extreme congestion, landslides and the deteriorating security situation in the existing Cox Bazaar refugee camp. The government has assured that all refugees went voluntarily and the island has been equipped with proper infrastructure.

On the other hand, humanitarian and human rights groups like Refugees International, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have opposed the move citing improper planning and lack of facilities on the island. Refugees International in a statement said, “Without appropriate assessments and adequate information for refugees about conditions on the island, the move is nothing short of a dangerous mass detention of the Rohingya people in violation of international human rights obligations.”

The Bangladesh government has maintained that Rohingyas must return to their country of origin as soon as possible and they are being hosted only on a temporary basis. Bangladesh and Myanmar had signed a repatriation deal on November 23, 2017. Another document called  the Physical Arrangement was signed on January 16, 2018 which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas.  Repatriation attempts failed twice in November 2018 and August 2019 amid Rohingyas’ lack of trust in the Myanmar government.