by Nadeem Qadir in Dhaka
The Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are not only voluntarily, but also happily relocating to the Bhashanchar Island of Bangladesh, giving a thumb down to critics who allegedly have vested interest to keep them in shanty camps of Cox’s Bazar.
The second batch of 1,772 Rohingyas relocated to Bhashanchar Island in the Bay of Bengal encouraged by the good living reports by those who started their lives in the world class accommodation in the first batch earlier this month, local officials said.
Out of the 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar tourist district of Bangladesh, more than 1,000 will be resettled on this island, which media people who accompanied them said the place is beautiful and scenic.
The island could be turned into a new tourist destination after the Rogyas are repatriated back to their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews has said the international community must acknowledge that after three years its policy with respect to the Rohingya refugees has failed.
“It has failed because Myanmar remains unwilling to take meaningful steps to create conditions necessary for the safe, sustainable, and dignified return to the Rohingyas’ place of origin in Rakhine State,” Andrews said, adding that “And, it has failed by not sufficiently resourcing Bangladesh to carry out its humanitarian mission.”
The failure to create conditions necessary for Rohingyas to return home to Myanmar, after more than three years, has created an untenable situation for both the Rohingya and the government of Bangladesh, UN human rights expert said.
He said the international community must provide support, action, and accountability.
“We must no longer simply thank Bangladesh for its humanitarian assistance while providing lip service to the Rohingya’s right of return,” he said.
Andrews along with the United States and the European Union is not happy on the relocation as Bangladesh has not taken UN assessment of the island.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told this correspondent that it was not only the financial burden for Bangladesh, but the Rohingyas have damaged the ecosystem, hurt the local social fabric, drug smuggling and has become a security concern as many from the Muslim-minority group have been involved in militant s well as criminal activities.
“The critics should visit Bhashanchar and find out what we have given to the refugess who have been passing a very difficult life in makeshift camps” in Cox’s Bazar, he said.
Sources in the Bangladesh government monitoring the whole operation in Cox;s Bazar said the critics mostly jhave vested interest in keeping the Rohingyas in the camps.
“The UN and many other international organisation make a lot of money besides their hefty salary as Cox’s Bazar is marked by them to be a risky area,” one source said.
Local staffs, the sources added were paid some 6,000 taka extra, while there are large funds for those joining different meetings, plus the luxury of staying in Five Star hotels.
Thus they go for “whisper campaign” to discourage them from going to Bhashanchar, the sources said, adding that the Rohingyas have now put them in shame by voluntarily resettling in Bhashanchar Island. .
But he also acknowledged “Make no mistake: the Rohingya crisis emanated from Myanmar and can only be solved in Myanmar. The government of Myanmar has the moral and legal responsibility to end this crisis,” Andews added.