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Bangladesh prepares Island for rehabilitation of the Rohingya

by IT Web Admin
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Siam Sarower Jamilbh
(IT Correspondent)
Dhaka, Sep 28: Bhashan Char, An Island of Bangladesh is being turned into a rehabilitation centre for Rohingya refugees, with delegations of high-ups from the government and experts from government and non-government organisations visiting the area every day.
People living on Hatiya Island and along the coastal belt of Noakhali district, however, are in panic after learning about the development. But local public representatives and administration, when contacted, said therbe was nothing to worry about.
According to them, activities and surveillance of the police, the coastguard and the navy will increase once the Rohingya are rehabilitated.
Ayesha Ferdaus, lawmaker from Noakhali 6 (Hatiya) constituency, said: “Through arranging employment after providing them with counselling, the Rohingya will be helped return to a normal life. There is nothing to worry about.”
Aiming at protecting Bhashan Char from river erosion or floods, many of its low-lying areas have already been filled with sand and the height of the ground raised in several spots.
Moreover, some helipads and pontoons, among other infrastructures, have been constructed. Roads are also being constructed in order to facilitate internal communication on the island.
Bhashan Char, also known as Thengar Char, is located in Hatiya upazila of Noakhali, in the estuary of the Meghna river.
Under ideal weather conditions, it takes about 90 minutes to go to Hatiya Island from Noakhali in the mainland, from where a speedboat takes 30 minutes to get to the Char.
Deputy Inspector General Manir-uz-Zaman of Chittagong range said: “Patrolling by the police, the coastguard and the navy will intensify in Bhashan Char if the Rohingya are rehabilitated there. The island and river (Meghna) will become much safer then.”
When asked, Chittagong’s Divisional Commissioner Abdul Mannan: “We are doing experiments to get a clear idea about how liveable Bhashan Char is or if it would be vulnerable to climate change. Nonetheless, these are all still in the primary stage.”
Captain Aminul Islam Khan of Bangladesh Navy, also the in-charge of Bhashan Char Rohingya Rehabilitation Project, said the Char would be a modern refugee camp.
“All kind of facilities including educational institutions, hospitals, recreational centres and playgrounds will be here. Rohingya refugees will be brought in here in phases,” he said.
In the first spate, as many as 120,000 Rohingya people would be rehabilitated and the navy want to start the project soon, he further said.
But, the navy did not clarify how long it could take to bring in the Rohingya there.
The Navy has recently been given the responsibility to develop 13,000 acres of land on Bhasan Char to create temporary accommodation for up to 70,000 Rohingya refugees within the next two years.
Finance Division officials said the estimated Tk1,000 crore project will be funded entirely by the government and will include the major challenge of damming the char to protect it from regular flooding by seawater.
The government in February had announced its plans to rehabilitate the refugees who began arriving from Myanmar in October 2016, drawing some criticism internationally.
The recent influx of the Rohingya fleeing the ongoing spate of brutal persecution by Myanmar army in Rakhine state prompted Bangladesh government to assign its navy for the project.
A UN estimate says the continuing exodus starting on August 25 saw around 480,000 Rohingya people enter into Bangladesh until Tuesday.

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