Dhaka, Feb 17 (IANS) Bangladesh has announced that it may drop its previous plans to move 100,000 Rohingya refugees to a remote island located in the Bay of Bengal.
“Our main target is to repatriate Rohingya to their original homeland, Myanmar’s Rakhine state,” Foreign Minister Abul Kalam Abdul Momen on Sunday told reporters in the capital Dhaka following a meeting with the Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh, Li Jiming, Yeni Safak newspaper reported.
Lauding recent development projects on the islet of Bhasan Char and plans to turn it into a business hub and “new Bangladesh” Momen said Bangladeshi citizens left homeless due to river erosion or other reasons should instead be settled there.
Bhasan Char, a remote islet where the Bangladesh announced in 2018 it would resettle 100,000 Rohingya refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar, is measured 15,000 acres at low tide and 10,000 acres at high tide, according to the government sources.
The scheme had elicited concerns that the site was less than ideal. Dhaka since said it undertook projects to improve living conditions on the islet.
“We all are agree not to send Rohingya there. Now we place our recommendations to the government for final decision on alternative use of Bhasan Char project,” said Momen.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.