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View From The Neighbourhood: Refugee relocation | The Indian Express

View From The Neighbourhood: Refugee relocation | The Indian Express

Published: April 1, 2019 12:23:53 am

View From The Neighbourhood: Refugee relocation

A weekly look at the public conversations shaping ideas beyond borders — in the Subcontinent.

Bangladesh tells UN Security Council cannot take more Myanmar refugees

Mohammad Zaman writes a measured opinion piece in The Daily Star on the Bangladesh government’s decision to relocate approximately 1,00,000 Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char — a remote, uninhabited island, about a three to four hour-long boat ride away from the mainland. Pointing out that such random relocation is not a solution to “overcrowding” of refugees, he writes, “The relocation of 100,000 refugees, only one-tenth of the refugee population in Cox’s Bazar, is not going to ease congestion or overcrowding in the camps as claimed by the government nor reduce and/or minimise the growing conflict with the host population. Even if dispersal and resettlement was required to lessen the pressure on the squalid settlements in the camps, why relocate such a huge number of refugee population to an inaccessible and physically hostile environment on a remote island in the Bay of Bengal?” He acknowledges the fact that the government has made an effort to show the refugees, via videos, where they are headed and the pros and cons. However, he says that in private, “they seem to have no interest in moving to the distant and isolated char in the Bay of Bengal.” Instead, he says, “The overwhelming preference is to remain in Ukhiya, which is a safe haven for the refugees, and is not too far from the Myanmar border. The proximity to Myanmar keeps them socially and culturally alive as Rohingya people.” The article concludes by clarifying that, “overcrowding is a common experience in refugee camps globally… The dispersal and relocation to Bhasan Char or other alternative settlements in the future may give the wrong signal to Myanmar that Bangladesh is perhaps slowly absorbing the refugee population. Thus, the relocation to Bhasan Char may potentially complicate refugee repatriation and resettlement.”

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