Bangladesh establishment has firmed up its decision of relocating Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh from Cox Bazaar to a remote, uninhabited island situated 21 nautical miles away from the shore. Dhaka plans to move next month about 100,000 Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char from its overcrowded Cox Bazaar refugee camps where more than 1 million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are currently camped.
According to the Relief and Repatriation Commission chief Mahbub Alam Talukder based in Cox Bazaar, the government plans to shift the refugees in phases from early November. As per the report, the first relocation was to take place in April this year. However, that could not take place reportedly due to concerns raised by many human rights groups who claimed that the island is remote and prone to devastating cyclones and floods. When the idea of moving Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to the remote island was first floated, many Rohingyas had said that they would rather prefer dying in the congested Cox bazaar camps.
Bhashan Char, which literally means ‘floating island’ emerged as an island about 20 years ago from a slit. The area was declared a forest reserve in 2013 and it regularly gets flooded between the monsoon months of June to September. The island’s area is around 10,000 acres at high tide and 15,000 acres at low tide.
It is located 21 nautical miles from Noakhali, 11 nautical miles from Jahajir Char, 4.2 nautical miles from Sandwip, 28 nautical miles from Patenga, and 13.2 nautical miles from Hatia and the only mode of commute for residents of Bhasan Char, should the Rohingyas decide to relocate to that island, will be vessels that take three to three-and-a-half hours to travel from Hatia.