Bangladesh to move Rohingya to flood-prone island next month

A Rohingya refugee boy takes shelter during a rainfall at the Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh's Ukhia district on August 24, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2019

Bangladesh to move Rohingya to flood-prone island next month

  • Dhaka wants to move 100,000 refugees to Bhasan Char to ease overcrowding in its camps at Cox’s Bazar
  • The number of refugees in Cox’s Bazar has swelled since August 2017

DHAKA: Bangladesh will start relocating Rohingya Muslims to a flood-prone island off its coast next month as several thousand refugees have agreed to move, a government official said on Sunday.
Dhaka wants to move 100,000 refugees to Bhasan Char – a Bay of Bengal island hours by boat from the mainland – to ease overcrowding in its camps at Cox’s Bazar, home to more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims who have fled neighboring Myanmar.
“We want to start relocation by early next month,” Mahbub Alam Talukder, the Relief and Repatriation Commission chief based in Cox’s Bazar, told Reuters, adding that “the refugees will be shifted in phases.”
“Our officials are compiling the lists of the refugees who are willing to move there,” he said, adding that as many as 7,000 refugees had by Saturday agreed to shift.
Some human rights groups have expressed concern over that plan because the island is remote and prone to devastation from cyclones. Many refugees oppose the move, which some human rights experts fear could spark a new crisis.
Densely populated Bangladesh has been grappling with large refugee numbers, with local communities turning hostile toward Rohingya after a second failed bid to send thousands back to Myanmar in August.
The number of refugees in Cox’s Bazar has swelled since August 2017, when a Myanmar military-led crackdown that UN investigators have said was conducted with “genocidal intent” prompted some 730,000 Rohingya to flee.
A UN human rights investigator who visited in January said she feared a new crisis if Rohingya were taken to the island.
“There are a number of things that remain unknown to me even following my visit, chief among them being whether the island is truly habitable,” said Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar.
Shah Kamal, secretary of Bangladesh’s Disaster Management Ministry, said the government was in talks with UN agencies to move the refugees to Bhasan Char, which it has been developing for the past three years.
“There is no reason to be concerned about floods because we have built storm surge embankment, with all other facilities,” he said.
“No one will be moved there against their will.”


Pompeo: Anti-Daesh coalition should shift focus to Africa

Updated 26 min 5 sec ago

Pompeo: Anti-Daesh coalition should shift focus to Africa

  • Saudi Arabia’s FM and Pompeo discussed joint efforts in confronting terrorism
  • Pompeo urged members of the coalition fighting against Daesh to take extremist detainees back to their countries

LONDON: There is growing concern about the Daesh threat outside of Iraq and Syria, and the coalition fighting the terrorist organization should focus on west Africa and the Sahel region, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday.

Pompeo also urged members of the coalition fighting against Daesh to take extremist detainees back to their countries and step up their funding to help restore infrastructure in Iraq and Syria, parts of which have been severely damaged by conflict.

"Coalition members must take back the thousands of foreign terrorist fighters in custody, and impose accountability for the atrocities they have perpetrated," Pompeo said at the opening of a meeting of foreign ministers from the global coalition to defeat Daesh.
Pompeo vowed that the United States will keep fighting the extremist group, and reassured worried allies convened in Washington.
"The United States will continue to lead the coalition and the world on this essential security effort," Pompeo said as he opened a day of talks in Washington.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan headed the Kingdom’s delegation at the meeting on Thursday and met with Pompeo.

The foreign minister said that two officials discussed “the strong ties” between their countries and “the joint efforts in confronting terrorism in the region and the world.”

Daesh has lost almost all of its territory in Iraq and Syria. Former leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was killed in a US raid last month, but the militant group remains a security threat in Syria and beyond.
Some 10,000 Daesh detainees and tens of thousands of family members remain in camps and prisons in northeastern Syria guarded by the Syrian Kurdish allies of the United States. Washington is pushing European countries to take their citizens back, but so far they have been reluctant to do so.
(With Reuters)