Why in the news?
- Many international organisations have criticised the sending of Rohingyas from the mainland to Bhasan Char Island by Bangladesh.
Who are Rohingyas?
- The Rohingya are an ethnic group, the majority of whom are Muslim, who have lived for centuries in the majority Buddhist Myanmar. They are not considered one of the country’s 135 official ethnic groups and have been denied citizenship in Myanmar since 1982, which has effectively rendered them stateless.
- A total of 362 villages of Rohingyas have been destroyed either completely or partially since Myanmar’s military began a campaign against the Rohingya in August 2017.
- Due to ongoing violence and persecution, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to neighbouring countries either by land or boat.
Rohingyas and Bangladesh
- Bangladesh hosts nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees in scattered camps across Cox’s Bazar, more than 700,000 of whom fled violence and atrocities committed to neighbouring Myanmar three years ago.
About Bhasan Char
- Located near the mouth of the River Meghna where it flows into the Bay of Bengal, Bhasan Char surfaced only in 2006 from the sediment deposited by the river. It spans around 40 sq km.
- The Bangladesh government has built shelters, hospitals and masjids. According to media reports, construction of the concrete accommodation began in November 2017 at an estimated cost of 23.12 billion takas ($272 million).
Why shifting Rohingyas to Bhasan Char?
- Bangladesh has spent more than $300 million to prepare the previously uninhabited island to host 100,000 refugees.
- The government has argued that camps in Cox’s Bazar (mainland Bangladesh) have become overcrowded and harder to manage due to socioeconomic and security challenges, but experts say that Bhasan Char is vulnerable to cyclones and floods and that refugees are being coerced into relocating.
What is the issue with relocating?
- Bhasan char island is more a mudflat and is vulnerable to going underwater from tides and flooding.
- It is also vulnerable to cyclones which are yearly affairs to the Bay of Bengal coast.
- Officials have said that people relocated to the island can engage in farming and livestock breeding, but will not be able to “transact money” as Bangladesh is yet to officially recognise them as refugees and refers to them only as “stateless” people.
- As Bangladesh is under pressure to manage the Rohingya crisis, other nations and international fraternity should come forward to coerce Myanmar to look into Rohingya Welfare.
- Also, they should stand with Bangladesh to manage this humanitarian crisis.