Bangladesh plans 'go-and-see' scheme to relocate Rohingya to island


Bangladesh has designed a new plan to relocate tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees from crowded mainland camps to an offshore island in the Bay of Bengal, a senior official said on Monday.

The initial transfer of Rohingya Muslims to Bhasan Char island is expected to begin after conducting a "go-and-see" programme for various groups, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said in Dhaka.

"We'll soon conduct the go-and-see visit," he said in a webinar titled "The Rohingya Crisis: Western, Asian, and Bilateral Perspectives" organised by a private university to mark the third anniversary of Rohingya exodus.

The relocation may begin after the monsoon, which lasts generally until September, he added.

Momen said the government will arrange visits for a UN team, rights groups and media to see the island, where homes and other amenities were built to accommodate 100,000 Rohingya.

More than 300 Rohingya men and women, who were taken to the island recently after they were rescued in the sea, are doing well, he said. As part of the larger move, the government prepared a list of Rohingya leaders to be taken to the island to show them the living situation, an official said.

Dhaka has long been planning to relocate refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar from overcrowded camps in south-eastern Cox's Bazar district to Bhasan Char, an island nearly 40 kilometres away from the mainland.

In total, more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims are living in Bangladesh; nearly 750,000 crossed into Bangladesh in the face of a military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine in August 2017.

Rights groups and aid agencies have warned that the island, which emerged from sediments building up in the sea about two decades ago, might be dangerous as the area is prone to violent storm and flooding during monsoon.    (dpa)

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