Rohingyas Stage Protest Against Living Condition

Rohingyas Stage Protest Against Living Condition

Rohingyas Stage Protest Against Living Condition on a cyclone-prone island off Bangladesh where they were moved from vast camps on the mainland, police said.
Since December, Bangladesh has shifted 18,000 out of a planned 100,000 refugees to the low-lying silt island of Bhashan Char from the Cox’s Bazar region, where some 850,000 people live in squalid and cramped conditions.

Most of them had fled a brutal military offensive in neighbouring Myanmar in 2017 that United Nations (UN) investigators concluded was executed with “genocidal intent”.

Monday’s protest involved up to 4,000 people, police said, and coincided with an inspection visit by officials from the refugee agency, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“The Rohingyas, who are there, became unruly the moment the UNHCR representatives landed (on the island) by helicopter today,” local police chief Alamgir Hossain told AFP.

“They broke the glass on warehouses by throwing rocks. They came at the police… Their demand is they don’t want to live here.”

One Rohingya man confirmed to AFP that bricks were thrown and that police prevented them from entering a building where the UNHCR officials were present.

Located in the Bay of Bengal, 60 km from the mainland, Bhasan Char was built by Bangladesh in 2006 using Himalayan silt, at the cost of more than $360 million, to ease the overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Each Bhasan Char house has concrete rooms measuring 2m x 2.5m, with small windows and a toilet, for 11 people.

However, the UNHCR said it was concerned about Bhasan Char’s vulnerability to severe weather and flooding, leading to a UN proposal in December 2019 for a “technical assessment” of the island.

Wednesday’s visit marked a breakthrough in the proposal. It follows various attempts by the UN refugee agency to visit the facility, awaiting government permission to carry out the evaluation, amid concerns about whether the relocation was safe.

Similar concerns were raised by several international rights organizations who urged Bangladesh not to relocate the Rohingya to the island, reasoning it was located in an area prone to cyclones.
“During the visit, the UN team appraised the needs of Rohingya refugees living on Bhasan Char, including through meetings with Rohingya men, women, boys, and girls. The UN team also met with the local authorities and security agencies working on the island, as well as some of the NGOs and traders operating there,” Donovan said.
After the first transfer on December 4 to the flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal, several Rohingyas told AFP that they were beaten and intimidated into agreeing to be relocated.

The claims have been echoed by rights groups.

The Bangladesh government has rejected the allegations, saying the island was safe and its facilities far better than those in the Cox’s Bazar camps.

The UN said it has not been involved in the process.

Before, The UN also visited the infrastructure and facilities on Bhasan Char. This included the accommodation, health facilities, multi-purpose structures, police and fire stations, transport infrastructure, power and telecommunications systems and the flood embankment,” Donovan said.

Digi Skynet

Digi Skynet

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