Dhaka Bureau Policy Times:
The Government of Bangladesh has ensured all modern amenities in Bhashan Char with the supply of year-round freshwater, proper infrastructure, and enhanced facilities. These also include the uninterrupted supply of electricity and water, agricultural plots, cyclone shelters, two hospitals, four community clinics, mosques, warehouses, telecommunication services, police stations, beautiful lakes, recreation and learning centers, playgrounds, etc.
In contrast to the makeshift structures of the camps in Cox’s Bazar, the accommodation in Bhashan Char is strongly-built with a concrete foundation that can withstand natural disasters such as cyclones and tidal waves. Super Cyclone AMPHAN proved the strength of the structures of Bhashan Char. Contrary to the apprehension of some quarters about the feasibility of the island, Bhashan Char stood firm against the massive storm. All 1440 houses and 120 shelter stations on the island remained unharmed. The island is connected with the mainland through waterways.
The Government of Bangladesh has ensured an adequate supply of food along with proper sanitation and medical facilities for Rohingyas in Bhashan Char. Proper hospitals with highly qualified health professionals, adequate COVID testing, and treatment facilities are in place. In addition to Government agencies, around 22 NGOs are already there to extend all possible support to the relocated Rohingyas. Adequate security has been ensured on the island by the deployment of police personnel including female police. The area is fully covered with CCTV cameras.
On the relocation, GOB’s position was very clear and transparent from the very beginning that any relocation would be entirely on a voluntary basis. Accordingly, a good number of Rohingya representatives undertook a “go and see” visit Bhashan Char to see the facilities and make an independent and informed choice. A number of NGOs and journalists also visited the island. All of them expressed their high satisfaction at the available facilities in Bhashan Char.
When the persecuted Rohingyas from Myanmar were fleeing en masse from the violence, persecution, and atrocities in the hands of their own people in their own land, it was Bangladesh who, purely out of humanitarian gesture, responded immediately and opened her borders and thus saved nearly a million of precious lives. We set another unique example of humanity in the world by developing a modern island to temporarily accommodate some of these persecuted Rohingyas.
The Rohingyas are Myanmar nationals and they must return to Myanmar. The relocation is a part of the broader plan of repatriation which is the only priority for the Government of Bangladesh. The skill development and livelihood opportunity that the Rohingyas would be able to avail themselves in Bhashan Char would prepare them for their reintegration into the Myanmar society in return.