26, Apr 2018 | CJP Team
Humanitarian groups are not convinced about Bangladesh’s plan to relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees to a remote island in June, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported. Bangladesh’s government has been working on the Bhasan Char island for four months, but has not given humanitarian agencies access. A briefing with aid groups took place on April 4, but it reportedly did not succeed in allaying the organisations’ concerns. “Basic questions of the island’s habitability remain unanswered,” said the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), which supervises the refugee camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, under the aid groups’ Strategic Executive Group (SEG). Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh following a military crackdown in late August 2017, and aid groups are “struggling to accommodate” them. In March 2018, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said 203,000 people were under threat due to landslides and floods in the biggest camp, and that they should be relocated. Bangladesh officials said in the briefing on April 4 that “no suitable land is available nearby” the current refugee camps. In an internal report following the briefing, UNHCR said it was still concerned about whether “proper cyclone and flood preparedness measures” had been implemented. on the island. It noted that “The concentration of a vulnerable population in a restricted environment may lure trafficking networks and extremists to prey on refugees.” UNHCR also said it was concerned that the refugees would not be offered a “free and informed choice” to move to the island, and that the relocation could then amount to “arbitrary detention”.