At least 87 percent of Rohingya refugees residing in makeshift camps in southern Bangladesh are unwilling to be relocated to a remote island on the Bay of Bengal, local media said citing a police report. The report is based on a survey conducted by Cox's Bazar district's special branch of police, according to the New Age, a local daily.
Cox's Bazar has been hosting around a million refugees, including more than 750,000 people who came to Bangladesh following violence in the Rakhine state of western Myanmar last year.
Earlier in June, the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Human Rights Watch urged Bangladesh to abandon a plan to move some 100,000 Rohingya to an island in the Bay of Bengal called Bhasan Char. Refugees have heard rumors of the move to the uninhabited silt island prone to regular tidal flooding, and have expressed no interest in going there. Bangladesh and Myanmar have signed a repatriation agreement but Rohingya are refusing to return without guarantees of safety and rights, including freedom of movement and citizenship. Meanwhile they wait in cramped camps with flimsy bamboo huts perched on muddy hills, cheek-by-jowl with other families and exposed to the elements.
Citing the report, the New Age noted Rohingya mentioned isolation of the location, fear of relief and medication facilities being hampered and isolation from their relatives among 10 causes for their unwillingness to go the island.
"The government will take representatives of all concerned authorities, including Rohingya representatives, members of local and international NGOs and rights bodies to Bhasan char Island before relocation to inspect the actual conditions there," Muhammad Habibul Kabir Chowdhury, head of Refugee Affairs at Disaster Management and Relief Ministry, told Anadolu Agency (AA).
"The relocation will not be implemented until the government is confirmed of the providing of better facilities than in the Ukhiya and Tekhnaf refugee camps in Cox's Bazar," he added referring the current refugee camps in the city.
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