Statement by Refugees International Senior Advocate for Human Rights Daniel Sullivan:
"Bangladesh's announced plan to begin relocating Rohingya refugees this week to Bhasan Char---an isolated island in the Bay of Bengal---is short-sighted and inhumane.
Refugees International has joined a chorus of UN and NGO officials who have raised safety and logistical concerns over the relocation plan, and we recently joined four groups in a letter requesting access for an independent visit to the island and assessments by UN agencies. Those requests remain unanswered. But without appropriate assessments and adequate information for refugees about conditions on the island, the move is nothing short of a dangerous mass detention of the Rohingya people in violation of international human rights obligations.
The proposed move also comes while cyclone season in the Bay of Bengal is still ongoing. As the devastation wrought by Cyclone Amphan demonstrated this summer, super cyclones are the way of the future, and conditions on the isolated island may be too dangerous for the Rohingya.
Rohingya refugees we've spoken to are extremely anxious and opposed to relocating to Bhasan Char. One Rohingya refugee even said forced repatriation to Myanmar, where there is ongoing risk of genocide, would be preferred to the unknown and potential dangers of resettling to Bhasan Char.
Bangladesh should halt any plans to relocate Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char until these concerns are addressed. The government of Bangladesh deserves praise for all it has done to provide refuge to the Rohingya. It should not change course now by taking a step so blatantly at odds with the well-being of this persecuted population."