The Bangladesh government has relocated nearly 20,000 Rohingya refugees to a remote island without adequate health care, livelihoods, or protection, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The United Nations and donor governments should urgently call for an independent assessment of the safety, disaster preparedness, and habitability at Bhasan Char during the impending monsoon season and beyond.
The 58-page report, “‘An Island Jail in the Middle of the Sea’: Bangladesh’s Relocation of Rohingya Refugees to Bhasan Char,” finds that Bangladesh authorities transferred many refugees to the island without full, informed consent and have prevented them from returning to the mainland. While the government says it wants to move at least 100,000 people to the silt island in the Bay of Bengal to ease overcrowding in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps, humanitarian experts have raised concerns that insufficient measures are in place to protect against severe cyclones and tidal surges. Refugees on the island reported inadequate health care and education, onerous movement restrictions, food shortages, a lack of livelihood opportunities, and abuses by security forces.