Bangladesh moves towards relocating Rohingya refugees, UN denies involvement

Despite rights groups advising not to relocate Rohingya refugees anymore, Bangladesh is pressing on to move a 2nd group of refugees from Myanmar to the remote island of Bhasan Char in the Bay of Bengal this month.

The new group consists of about 1,000 refugees and is in addition to more than 1,600 refugees that were moved earlier this month, according to an unnamed official.

“They will be moved to Chittagong first and then to Bhasan Char, depending on the high tide.”

However, a deputy Bangladesh government official said they would not be sent against their will, as the relocation was voluntary. But, the UN says it has not been allowed to carry out a technical and safety assessment of Bhasan Char, an island that is prone to having floods in the Bay of Bengal. The UN further says it is not involved in the transfer of refugees to the area, a statement which is further concerning rights groups. Some refugee and humanitarian workers claim that the refugees are being coerced into relocating to the island, which only emerged from the sea a mere 20 years ago.

Bangladesh officials, however, say the move will help ease badly overcrowded camps that house more than 1 million Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar after being persecuted.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abdul Momen said earlier this month that the UN should first assess and verify how conducive the environment in Myanmar’s Rakhine state was for repatriating the refugees, before carrying out an assessment of Bhasan Char. However, most attempts at repatriating the Muslim minority group to their native country of Myanmar have failed as refugees continually say they are too scared to return over fears of continued violence against them.

Thailand has hosted Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in overcrowded camps with future prospect appearing bleak as the nation does not formally recognise refugees not grants them any rights.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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