The Remote Island Where Bangladesh Plans To Move The Rohingyas

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Pic: ReutersPic: Reuters

Bangladesh is planning to move thousands of Rohingya Muslims -- who have fled to the nation to seek refuge from violence in Myanmar -- to an uninhabited, barren island which floods every year.

Reluctant Rohingya refugees could be forced to make this Bangladeshi island their new homes, as the nation scrambles to find more land to build refugee camps.

Ever since the latest flare-up of violence against the community in Myanmar on August 23, more than 300,000 Rohingyas have poured into Bangladesh in addition to the 300,000 Rohingya refugees already living in overflowing United Nations-run camps in Cox Bazar district.

The latest string of violence in Myanmar's northwestern Rakhine state began when Rohingya insurgents reportedly attacked various police posts and an army base. A military counter-offensive and clashes led to a loss of at least 400 lives and initiated an exodus of the villagers in the region to Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh government has appealed for international support to house the Rohingyas in the island. UN officials and Rohingya leaders, however, have been resisting the move, as it puts the refugees' lives in danger.

Bangladesh's proposal -- first presented in 2015 --to shift refugees to the low-lying delta plain Thengar Char has been widely criticised. The area is highly vulnerable to cyclones, with coastal zones and islands at the highest risk. Some nearby islands have a tidal range as high as 6 metres, meaning a strong cyclone during a high tide period would likely leave the entire island submerged, according to Golam Mahabub Sarwar of Bangladesh's Ministry of Land.

The Rohingya Muslims have been fleeing the nation following a military crackdown in the Buddhist-dominated Myanmar's Rakhine state. The UN has deemed Myanmar's persecution of the Rohingyas over generations as ethnic cleansing.

- mD