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US urges Bangladesh to postpone relocation of Rohingyas

The US has urged Bangladesh to postpone relocation of Rohingyas to the uninhabited island Bhashan Char. In a statement given at the House Foreign Affairs Sub Committee, acting assistant secretary at the Bureau of South and Central Asia Alice G Wells urged Bangladesh to postpone any refugee relocation to Bhashan Char until independent experts can determine it a suitable location.

Appreciating Bangladesh for allowing Rohingya refugees to take shelter in the country she said that opening its border for 700,000 Rohingya refugees since August 2017 deserves recognition from international partners, including the United States.

She further said that Myanmar must create conditions for the Rohingya’s voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable repatriation and guarantee their rights as recommended by the Annan Commission.

Earlier on October 21, Bangladesh had assured European Union that relocation of the Rohingyas to the Bhashan Char will be voluntary.

Government of Bangladesh has been keen to relocate the Rohingya refugees to the Bhashan char island where arrangements for relocating 1 lakh people have been made at a cost of 23,000 crores Taka. It has built houses, cyclone shelters, a three-metre high and 13-km long flood-defence embankment, food warehouses and other basic facilities on the island.

While the government planned to relocate Rohingyas, environmentalists say that the Bhashan Char which has emerged less than two decades back from the sea falls in an ecologically fragile area prone to floods, erosion and cyclone. The issue of forced relocation and lack of mobility on the island has also been raised by organisations working among the Rohingyas.