Zakia Ahsan

From current view of international politics after the Syria crisis, one of the most concerning issues is the Rohingya crisis. This crisis is considered the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis. It was started in August 2017. 

Thousands of families fled from Myanmar to southern Bangladesh for not being able to tolerate the unbearable torture, discrimination, detention, and brutality of the government of Myanmar. Approximately 60% of them are children. 

In addition to that from 2017 to 2019, there is an estimated 91 thousand children were born in the refugee camps. By September 2019 around 1,295,000 people were in need of support, 2020 Cox’s Bazar containing more than 860,000 refugees fled from Myanmar. 

Two refugee camps Kutupalong and Nayapara have become shelters for more than 300,000 people. Kutupalong is now the world’s largest refugee camp. Causes of Rohingya relocation plan to Bhasan Char: Now let’s talk about the reason behind this relocation plan. 

Why the Bangladeshi government is subjected to the relocation of the refugees from Cox’s Bazar to Bhasan Char albeit the international community is not happy with this plan? 

1. Bangladesh is one of the densely populated countries in the world.  The huge number of refugees causing great pressure on the government. 

2. Bangladesh is considered an LDC (Least Developed Country) according to some international organization. Government wanted to use their unused but suitable area for the refugees. Because that will be economically supportive for them. 

3. The largest sea beach in the world Cox’s Bazar is the major tourist attraction of Bangladesh. This is one of the sectors which support the economy a lot. After the arrival of the Rohingya’s the tourist spot totally lost its value. International tourists are not that much interested like before to come across this spot nowadays and they don’t feel safe as well.

 4. In the COVID-19 situation the relocation can implement decongest the severely crowded camps.

 5. Environmental hazard has always been a major concern for any country. 

The influx of a huge number of refugees in such a small place impacts environment drastically. The UNHCR Environmental Guidelines (1996) state the environmental impacts of an influx of asylum seekers in host countries includes: 

uncontrolled fuelwood collection, poaching, and overuse of limited water supplies. These impacts have placed serious strains on the ecosystems in many regions, including some unique areas set aside by local governments as parks or reserves or even sites. In the worst case, these activities, if continued, could result in irreversible losses of productivity, the extinction of species of plants or animals, the destruction of unique ecosystems, the depletion or long term of groundwater supplies, or a variety of other destructive outcomes”. 

Enormous destruction of nature and surface are unfolding as the consequence of the huge influx of Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar. 

6. Cox’s Bazar is not suitable for permanent settlement because this area is mostly hilly, risks of landslides, and most importantly not enough place for a huge population. 

7. Due to the COVID – 19 situation it’s totally impossible to keep social distancing. As we know that about half a million refugees were habitat in 26 square kilometers staying (Kutupalong refugee camp) and approximately 10 people were staying under every shelter. 

8. It took 3 years to build the Bhasan Char refugee camp and the Bangladesh Navy used every possible way to make it inhabitable. 

9. In Cox’s Bazar camp there were not enough sanitation facilities as well as a safe water supply. The overall situation was not suitable for a long time settlement. 

10. Although the Muslim- majority countries around the world expressed their verbal support for the refugees, nobody came forward with instant help and no substantial steps to help them. 

The adjacent countries like India, China also said that they didn’t want to involve in such a problem. Bangladesh is the only country left alone to deal with this crisis. 


Why Bhasan Char will be Rohingyas “New Home”, not “Concentration”? 


Bhasan Char, a remote island in the Bay of Bengal, is 123 kilometers away from Cox’s Bazar with a total area of 13,000 acres. This island didn’t exist 20 years ago. 

Bangladesh government has spent more than 300 million US dollars to prepare the previously uninhabited island to contain 100,000 refugees here. The government has already relocated some of the Rohingya Refugees to the island. 

Though this was a controversial decision, the government started implementing this plan on December 4; the first batch contained 1,642 people from the existing camps. 

This new project has 1,400 cluster houses, 120 cyclone shelters, administrative buildings, officials for the UN and non-government organizations, schools, two hospitals with 20 beds each, relief centers, total 3 warehouses, fire and police stations, lighthouse, mosques, a helipad, 2-Mega Watt power plant, road, and drainage networks. 

I would like to mention some of the reasons why Bhasan Char considered far better than the camps in Cox’s Bazar. 

1. Bhasan Char has enough space for the refugees to live. Cox’s Bazar was severely crowded. The island is many-times better than Cox’s Bazar. 

2. The accommodation system here is far better than that in Cox’s Bazar. In Kutupalong, they had to live in a plastic-made shelter and at least 10 people under one single shelter. They had to cook inside that shelter and there were no beddings and other emergency needs. 

But in Bhasan Char the overall infrastructure is way more inhabitable. They have been privileged with concrete-made houses, separate cooking places, beds, and enough space inside their houses. 

3. The island is safer and much more organized. Every cluster has 12 houses with 16 rooms and a corridor for fresh air supply. There is a pond, tube well , and a playground in every courtyard of the clusters. 

4. In Cox’s Bazar camps, there was one toilet for 22 people but in Bhasan Char the toilet facility is much better. 9-11 people use one toilet. The safe water supply, ponds, and tube wells are available. 

5. The structure of the houses is safer. There is 4 feet of space under every cluster to keep the houses from sudden monsoon and flood. 

6. Bhasan Char is protected by structures that lessen the power of high tide in extreme weather conditions. There is a 9 feet high and 12.1-kilometer long flood defense embankment around the island. 

7. The island is mostly organized with its planned clusters and spacious roads. 

8. For security, there are police forces active and for further action, there are administrative buildings.

9. There are 120 cyclone shelters, community clinics, and 2 hospitals (each has 20 beds). In the last 2 years, the island faced 3 strong cyclonic warnings (Amphan, Bulbul, and Fani) but the water level remained outside the island. In addition to that, the shelters are built 14 feet above the ground. So, there is minimum risk of flood and monsoons. 

10. There is a one-Mega Watt solar panel and a Two-Mega Watt generator for the centralized area. Apart from that, each house has its individual solar for day and night services. After analyzing these facilities, it is clear that the idea of decongesting was not that bad and the herculean task is now considering as a hope to Bangladesh. 

The main concern of the Bangladeshi government is the repatriation of the refugees to their homeland. But this is not going to be an easy task. There would be some outcome effects of this mammoth relocation task. 

Both positive and negative, International or national. But for a poorish country Bangladesh, this relocation is very essential. 


Written by 

Zakia Ahsan 

Department of International Relations 

Jahangirnagar University


 References: 

1. Rohingya Relocation: 3,500 to move to Bhasan Char today. (2021, February 15). The Daily Star,p.online. 

2. The Diplomat. (2020, December 22). Bhasan Char: A New Home for Rohingya Refugees. Retrieved from https://thediplomat.com/2020/12/bhasna-char-a-new-home-for-rohingya- refugees/ 

3. Aljazeera. (2021, March 17). UN team Visits Remote Bangladesh Island Where Rohingya Relocated. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/17/un-team-visits-remote- bangladesh-island-where-rohingya-relocated/ 

4. DW. (2021, March 26). Rohingya: Relocated refugees say life was better at cox’s bazar. Retrieved from https://www.dw.com/en/rohingya-relocated-refugees-say-life-was-better-at- cox’s-bazar/a-56717730 

5. World Asia Pacific. (2021, January 30). Rohingya Relocation: Bangladesh moves 4th group. Retrieve from https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/rohingya-relocation-bangladesh-moves- 4th-group/2128267 

6. World Asia Pacific. 92021, March 13). UN to visit Rohingya relocation: island in Bangladesh. Retrieved from https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/un-to-visit-rohingya-relocation-island- in-bangladesh/2174713 

7. UN News. (2021, February 22). Rohingya refugees: UN agency urges immediate rescue to prevent ‘tragedy’ on Andaman Sea. Retrieved from https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/02/1085342 

8. Amnesty International (2020, October 9), Bangladesh: Rohingya Refugees’ Safety Must be Ensured Aimed Violent Clashes in Cox’s Bazar. Retriever from be-ensured-amid-violent-clashes-in-cox’s-bazaar/ https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/10/bangladesh-rohingya-refugees-safety-must- 

9. Hossain, Israt. (2020). (Associate). After Humanitarianism: Bangladesh’s Evolving Rohingya Policy. German Institute for Global and Area Studies, 20354 Hamburg. 

10. Syahrin, M. Alvi. (2018). The Refugee Crisis: Legal Protection on International Law And Islamic Law. (Doctoral Thesis). Universitas Borobudur, Jakarta, Indonesia 


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *