COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh
Bangladesh needs to send more than 80,000 Rohingya refugees to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal after sealing an agreement for the United Nations to provide help, officials said today.
Some 19,000 of the Muslim refugees from Myanmar have already relocated from crowded camps on the mainland to Bhashan Char island, despite doubts raised by aid groups, officers said.
Bangladesh refugee commissioner Shah Rezwan Hayat told that tens of thousands extra would go once the monsoon storms that batter the Bay of Bengal each year end in November.
“We are aiming to relocate some 81,000 (Rohingya) to Bhashan Char by the end of February to complete the 100,000 quota,” he told.
The authorities has spent about US$350 million (RM1.4 billion) constructing shelters on the 53 square kilometre island which used to be formed by tidal silt deposits about 20 years ago.
On pinnacle of the inhospitable weather, the island is 60 kilometres from the Bangladesh mainland and some Rohingya groups say people have been forced to go there.
About 850,000 Rohingya are packed into camps alongside the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. Most fled a Myanmar army clampdown in 2017 that the UN says could be genocide.
Bangladesh has been praised for taking in the refugees who poured across the border however has had little success finding them permanent homes.