Bangladesh has hosted more than a million Rohingya Muslims in overcrowded camps since 2017. Refugees left Myanmar because the Buddhist majority persecuted them there. The government of Myanmar, led by the recently deposed Aung San Suu Kyi, has always been remarkably silent about prosecutions.
Five warships brought 485 women, 577 men and 948 children to the island of Bhasan Shar, where the government of Bangladesh has invested nearly 290 million euros to build the island’s infrastructure. The island is approximately 35 km from the mainland.
Bangladesh says housing on the island is the best option available, but some human rights activists question whether the move forces refugees away from the mainland. There is great concern that the island is regularly flooded with monsoons and hit by tropical storms.
“No one has been forced to go there,” said Muhammad Shamsudoza, vice chair of the Bangladesh Refugee Relief and Repatriation Committee. He added that relatives already living on the island had encouraged many Rohingya to move.