Rohingya Relocation: United Nations envoy visits Bhashan Char | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 25, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:19 AM, January 25, 2019

Rohingya Relocation: United Nations envoy visits Bhashan Char

The UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar yesterday visited Bhashan Char where Dhaka aims to move Rohingya refugees despite worries it would be vulnerable to extreme weather.

Some 750,000 Rohingyas flooded into Bangladesh in late 2017 after an offensive by Myanmar military that the United Nations has said could have amounted to genocide, joining 250,000 already there.

Bangladesh is spending $280 million transforming Bhashan Char, a muddy silt islet that only emerged from the sea two decades ago, into a camp for some of the refugees.

Some of the Rohingya themselves, living in overcrowded and squalid camps in Cox's Bazar, have expressed unease about moving, while the UN has insisted that any relocation must be voluntary.

Yanghee Lee, the UN rapporteur, visited the island by a helicopter accompanied by Bangladesh foreign ministry officials and was due to inspect the shelters and facilities being built there.

Lee, on a visit also taking in Myanmar's other neighbour Thailand, issued no statement but she is due to give a news conference in Dhaka today, the UN said.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen this week said Dhaka was not hiding anything in the island and they would take all interested diplomats once construction work is completed.

“We're very open. We're not in any hide-and-seek. Let's finish the work first,” he said.

A senior disaster management official told AFP in September that nearly three-quarters of the project was complete, with the navy fast-tracking construction of shelters and evacuation centres.

Local authorities have been seeking to reassure refugees that they will be safe on the island.

Local officials have pointed to a newly-constructed three-metre embankment around the island they say will keep out tidal surges in the event of a cyclone.

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