The Bangladeshi authorities must abandon plans to relocate more than 100 Rohingya families to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal which has not yet been declared safe for human habitation by the United Nations and where many refugees are still reluctant to relocate, said Amnesty International.
According to local media reports, the Bangladeshi government has completed preparations to relocate 300 to 400 Rohingya refugees to the silt island of Bhashan Char this month on a “voluntary basis”. Rohingya refugees, interviewed by Amnesty International this month, said that government officials in charge of refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar have coerced them into registering for relocation.
Amnesty International has obtained a partial list of the Rohingya families identified for relocation to Bhashan Char, where more than 300 Rohingya refugees are already living in poor conditions.
“Aside from the fact that Bhashan Char has not been deemed safe for human habitation by the UN, there are serious questions over this relocation procedure. Many of the Rohingya we have spoken to have not given full and informed consent to being moved to an island they know nothing about,” said Omar Waraich, Head of South Asia at Amnesty International.
“Any decisions relating to the relocation of refugees must be transparent and involve the full participation of the Rohingya people. In the meantime, plans for any further relocations must be abandoned. The Bangladeshi authorities must let the UN carry out an assessment of Bhashan Char and immediately return the hundreds of Rohingya refugees currently on the island to their families in Cox’s Bazar.”
A Rohingya woman on the list told Amnesty International that she has registered to go to the island because her husband is there. As a single parent with a young child and without any relatives in the camp, she has been facing many problems.