Bangladesh to relocate first batch of Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char island ‘within 10 days’

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Desk report, Dec 01: The government has finalised plans to take the first batch of Rohingya refugees from the camps in Cox’s Bazar to the island of Bhasan Char ‘within the next 10 days’.

Additional Commissioner of the Office for Refugee Relief and Repatriation Mohammad Shamsud Douza revealed the development on Monday.

“We have already visited Bhasan Char. Preparations are underway to relocate a group of Rohingya to island in the next 8-10 days,” he said.

Two years ago, the government made plans to relocate a portion of the 1.1 million forcibly-displaced Rohingya people living in and outside the refugee camps along Bangladesh’s south coast to Bhasan Char, situated in the Meghna River’s estuary near Hatia.

However, the process of relocation failed to get off the ground due to the reluctance of the Rohingya refugees to move to the uninhabited island.

An aerial view of the housing project in Bhasan Char, named Asrayan-3. It is primarily based on the concept of cluster villages comprising houses and shelter stations which have been constructed with concrete blocks and stand four feet above the ground level.The government, at a cost of over Tk 23 billion, has set up the infrastructure of 120 cluster villages across 13,000 acres of the island to accommodate more than 100,000 people.

Bhasan Char currently shelters around 300 Rohingya, who were rescued at sea while on their way to Malaysia.

Later on Sept 5, a delegation of Rohingya refugees from the Cox’s Bazar camps was sent on a visit to Bhasan Char.

Upon their return, some Rohingya showed keenness in moving to Bhasan Char, according to government officials.

The relocation process will begin once the authorities finish reviewing the list of Rohingya refugees who are willing to move to Bhasan Char, said Shamsud Douza.

However, the authorities are yet to finalise the number of Rohingya who will be relocated to Bhasan Char in the first phase, according to him.

“There’s a matter of consent here. We still need to work out a few things. Everything will be sorted out in the next few days. Hopefully, in 8 to 10 days, it will be possible to take a group of Rohingya people to Bhasan Char. ”