Bangladesh Coast guard rescues 280 Rohingyas from Bay of Bengal
Dhaka: The Bangladesh Coast guard rescued 280 Rohingyas from the Bay of Bengal and took them to the uninhabited island of Bhashan Char for relocation on Friday. A Bangladesh Navy official told AFP that the Rohingyas were rescued around 40 kilometres from the Saint Martin Island. Bangladesh authorities say that they did not have any identity cards issued to the Rohingya refugees in the country and they may have come from the Rakhine province of Myanmar.
Earlier, a batch of 29 Rohingyas adrift in the sea for a long time were also rescued and taken to the newly developed relocation centre for Rohingya refugees at Bhashan char on May 3. In mid-April, another group of approximately 400 Rohingya refugees were rescued by the Bangladesh authorities from a boat adrift in the sea for two months. The refuges on the boat were starving. It was reported that close to 30 people had died before the boat was rescued. This group of people was brought back to the Rohingya refugee camp and put under quarantine.
Government of Bangladesh has maintained that it will not permit any more Rohingyas to seek shelter in Bangladesh. According to UNHCR, Bangladesh has more than 9 lakh Rohingya refugees out of which close to 7 lakh 50 thousand refugees arrived after August 2017 fleeing Rakhine province of Myanmar amid violence and military crackdown.
Government of Bangladesh has been keen to relocate the Rohingya refugees on the uninhabited Bhashan char island which has an area of 40 square kilometre. The arrangements for relocating 1 lakh people have been made on this island at a cost of 2300 crore Taka. It has built houses, cyclone shelters, a three-metre-high and 13-km long flood-defence embankment, food warehouses and other basic facilities on the island.
While the government planned to relocate Rohingyas, environmentalists say that the Bhashan Char which has emerged less than two decades back, falls in an ecologically fragile area prone to floods, erosion and cyclone. The issue of forced relocation and lack of mobility on the island has also been raised by organisations working among the Rohingyas. The plan of relocating Rohingya refugees on Bhashan Char has run into opposition from some relief and rehabilitation organisations and UN agencies after government announced its plan to settle the refugees on the island.