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Friday, October 22, 2021

Rights teams urge Bangladesh to halt Rohingya relocation

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Bangladesh has begun preparations to maneuver hundreds of Rohingya refugees to a distant island off its coast, officers mentioned on Wednesday, regardless of opposition from many refugees and human rights teams who’ve urged to halt the relocation.

“Bangladesh ought to halt this hasty relocation course of,” mentioned Ismail Wolff, regional director of Fortify Rights. “Not one refugee ought to be moved till all human rights and humanitarian considerations have been resolved and real knowledgeable consent is assured.”

Bangladesh says transporting refugees to Bhasan Char – a Bay of Bengal island hours from the mainland by boat – will ease persistent overcrowding in its camps at Cox’s Bazar, that are dwelling to multiple million Rohingya, members of a Muslim minority who’ve fled neighbouring Myanmar.

Humanitarian and human rights teams have urged a halt to the transfer, saying the island, which emerged from the ocean 20 years in the past and has by no means been inhabited, is flood-prone and susceptible to frequent cyclones, whereas the federal government has not allowed the United Nations to hold out a security evaluation.

“The authorities ought to instantly halt relocation of extra refugees to Bhashan Char …” mentioned Saad Hammadi, Amnesty Worldwide’s South Asia Campaigner, in an announcement.

“The relocation of so many Rohingya refugees to a distant island, which continues to be off limits to everybody together with rights teams and journalists with out prior permission, poses grave considerations about unbiased human rights monitoring,” he mentioned.

A senior native official, who spoke on situation of anonymity, instructed the Reuters information company in a message that “many households” had been moved out of the camps as of Wednesday evening, however declined to state a quantity.

Myanmar crackdown

Greater than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar in 2017 following a military-led crackdown that the UN has mentioned was executed with genocidal intent. Myanmar denies it carried out genocide and says its forces had been taking purpose at Rohingya rebels who attacked police posts.

View of the island of Bhasan Char within the Bay of Bengal [File: Reuters]

A briefing observe by a world humanitarian organisation seen by Reuters mentioned a whole lot of refugees recognized by officers as keen to go to the island had been taken to a transit centre on Wednesday, with some supplied incentives together with money funds.

Mohammed Shamsud Douza, the deputy Bangladesh authorities official accountable for refugees, mentioned housing had been constructed for 100,000 folks and authorities wish to relocate them through the November to April dry season when the ocean is calm.

“We is not going to power anybody to go there,” he mentioned by telephone, however didn’t touch upon whether or not incentives had been supplied.

The UN mentioned in an announcement it had been given “restricted info” concerning the relocations and was not concerned in preparations.

Louise Donovan, a spokeswoman, instructed Reuters the federal government had not given the UN permission to hold out technical assessments or to go to refugees already held there.

The UN in an announcement has mentioned: “[A]ny relocations to Bhasan Char ought to be preceded by complete technical safety assessments.”

Held in opposition to their will

Greater than 300 refugees had been delivered to the island earlier this 12 months after an try to flee Bangladesh for Malaysia by boat failed they usually had been stranded at sea for months.

They’ve mentioned they had been being held in opposition to their will and complained of human rights violations, some resorting to starvation strikes, in keeping with human rights teams.

A number of Rohingya, who didn’t wish to be named, had told Al Jazeera in October that males, ladies and even youngsters had been “overwhelmed with sticks” by Bangladeshi naval officers after they went on a four-day starvation strike final month.

In September, 5 rights organisations despatched a letter to Bangladesh Overseas Secretary Masud Bin Momen requesting entry to the island that’s susceptible to flooding.

“Rohingya within the camps in Cox’s Bazar face many points and issues, and the camps are overcrowded and imperfect, however shifting folks to an remoted island the place they haven’t any safety or assist from worldwide humanitarian companies or freedom of motion is just not the reply,” mentioned Wolff from Fortify Rights.

“At current, it’s an island detention centre.”

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