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Amsterdam, 31 Jan 2017: The European Rohingya Council (ERC) is deeply shocked and concerned over Bangladesh government’s inhumane and irresponsible proposal to relocate Rohingya refugees forcefully to Thengar Char Island. According to the news reported by BBC on 30 January, Bangladesh government is planning to relocate Rohingya refugees to a remoteisland called Thengar Char before they have been repatriated to Myanmar.
The island located in the Bay of Bengal is vulnerable to flood, and is not suitable to human inhabitants. The low-lying island, which is nine hours’ journey from the refugee camps, is surrounded by high water and has no access by roads. The island even doesn’t appear in the maps. The impossibility to inhabit in the island is best describe by the official who told AFP news agency as, “The island is only accessible during winter and is a haven for pirates. It completely inundates during the monsoon. It’s terrible idea to send someone to live there.”
It is unbelievable how the government of Bangladesh comes up with the idea to relocate Rohingya to an uninhabitable island. The Rohingya fled Myanmar to escape genocidal persecutions such as mass and systematic public rape, mass killing, and mass destruction of villages and shelters by Myanmar armed forces. More than 65 000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since 9 October 2016. The lives of Rohingya have never been easy in Bangladesh as well. The Rohingya face frequent harassment and intimidation in Bangladesh also.
We strongly urge the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to reverse the decision, if any, to relocate Rohingya to the island. Instead, the Prime Minister is urged to pro-actively engage with the government of Myanmar to address the root cause of the problems and to work for the safe return of the Rohingya to their ancestral land, Myanmar’s Rakhine state. This is the only and viable solution. We also urge international community, OIC, UN, EU and human rights organizations to object this terrible plan of forced relocation. We believe the government of Bangladesh and its people will not turn down our request.