Red Cross warns of ‘serious problems’ with remote Bangladesh island housing Rohingya refugees

Since final December, Bangladesh has moved about 19,000 Rohingya refugees, members of a persecuted principally Muslim minority from Myanmar, to the island of Bhasan Char from mainland border camps.

Rights teams have likened it to an island jail and mentioned some relocations have been involuntary.

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Alexander Matheou, Asia-Pacific director for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, mentioned restrictions on free motion and a scarcity of job alternatives and well being care would “deter people from choosing to go in large numbers” to the island, a number of hours’ from the mainland.

Matheou, who visited on Tuesday, instructed Reuters by cellphone the positioning was “well-designed and organized in terms of housing” and had entry to wash water, however the well being providers have been “too basic to cope with a large population” and there was no established system of referrals to the mainland.

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He mentioned the principle concern amongst refugees he spoke to was that they may not transfer backwards and forwards to the mainland to see their households.

“While that’s difficult, that is really, really upsetting people,” he mentioned. “So those issues could all act as a deterrent for people to voluntarily coming… I think that those will sort of undermine the success of the project unless they’re addressed.”

He mentioned authorities, who plan to maneuver one other 81,000 refugees to the island, have been exploring permitting folks to journey to the mainland for restricted intervals.

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Bangladesh officers didn’t reply to requests for remark by Reuters.

‘Coerced to relocate’

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Refugees have known as for freedom of motion between the flood-prone island and the sprawling mainland camps close to the port city of Cox’s Bazar. Dozens have died in current months making an attempt to flee in rickety boats.

The United Nations agreed to start out engaged on the island in October in an settlement that didn’t assure free motion, in response to a leaked copy of the unpublished deal seen by Reuters.

A Bhasan Char official, who requested to not be recognized as a result of they weren’t licensed to talk to the media, instructed Reuters by cellphone authorities have been getting ready to ship one other group of between 1,500 to 2,000 on Thursday.

She fled home to escape violence. Now she's been lost at sea for two months

Mohammed Arman, a refugee residing on the island, mentioned folks didn’t need to come there as a result of of the restrictions on motion.

Human Rights Watch mentioned in an announcement on Tuesday that camp officers and authorities safety companies have been coercing refugees to relocate together with by confiscating their id paperwork.

“Bangladesh’s October agreement with the UN doesn’t provide a free ticket to forcibly relocate Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char,” mentioned Bill Frelick, refugee and migrant rights director at Human Rights Watch.

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“On the contrary, donor governments will now be scrutinizing Bhasan Char to ensure their assistance doesn’t contribute to abuses.”

More than 1,000,000 Rohingya dwell in Bangladesh after fleeing Myanmar, the overwhelming majority in 2017 after a navy crackdown that included mass killings and gang rapes and which the UN mentioned was carried out with genocidal intent.

Myanmar denies genocide, saying it was conducting a official marketing campaign in opposition to insurgents who attacked police posts.

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