Bangladesh to move Rohingya to flood-prone island next month

A Rohingya refugee boy takes shelter during a rainfall at the Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh's Ukhia district on August 24, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2019

Bangladesh to move Rohingya to flood-prone island next month

  • Dhaka wants to move 100,000 refugees to Bhasan Char to ease overcrowding in its camps at Cox’s Bazar
  • The number of refugees in Cox’s Bazar has swelled since August 2017

DHAKA: Bangladesh will start relocating Rohingya Muslims to a flood-prone island off its coast next month as several thousand refugees have agreed to move, a government official said on Sunday.
Dhaka wants to move 100,000 refugees to Bhasan Char – a Bay of Bengal island hours by boat from the mainland – to ease overcrowding in its camps at Cox’s Bazar, home to more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims who have fled neighboring Myanmar.
“We want to start relocation by early next month,” Mahbub Alam Talukder, the Relief and Repatriation Commission chief based in Cox’s Bazar, told Reuters, adding that “the refugees will be shifted in phases.”
“Our officials are compiling the lists of the refugees who are willing to move there,” he said, adding that as many as 7,000 refugees had by Saturday agreed to shift.
Some human rights groups have expressed concern over that plan because the island is remote and prone to devastation from cyclones. Many refugees oppose the move, which some human rights experts fear could spark a new crisis.
Densely populated Bangladesh has been grappling with large refugee numbers, with local communities turning hostile toward Rohingya after a second failed bid to send thousands back to Myanmar in August.
The number of refugees in Cox’s Bazar has swelled since August 2017, when a Myanmar military-led crackdown that UN investigators have said was conducted with “genocidal intent” prompted some 730,000 Rohingya to flee.
A UN human rights investigator who visited in January said she feared a new crisis if Rohingya were taken to the island.
“There are a number of things that remain unknown to me even following my visit, chief among them being whether the island is truly habitable,” said Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar.
Shah Kamal, secretary of Bangladesh’s Disaster Management Ministry, said the government was in talks with UN agencies to move the refugees to Bhasan Char, which it has been developing for the past three years.
“There is no reason to be concerned about floods because we have built storm surge embankment, with all other facilities,” he said.
“No one will be moved there against their will.”


Poland seizes two for plotting Breivik-style attacks on Muslims

Updated 13 November 2019

Poland seizes two for plotting Breivik-style attacks on Muslims

  • The two suspects were taken into custody on Sunday in the capital Warsaw and the northern city of Szczecin
  • Breivik, an anti-Muslim neo-Nazi, massacred 77 people in Norway’s worst peacetime atrocity in July 2011

WARSAW: Polish agents arrested two people accused of planning attacks against Muslims inspired by Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik and suspected white supremacist Brenton Tarrant in New Zealand, the security service said on Wednesday.
The arrests follow a spate of attacks involving white supremacists targeting ethnic and religious minorities across the globe. Far-right groups have grown in strength in Poland, the largest of the European Union’s post-communist states.
The two suspects were taken into custody on Sunday in the capital Warsaw and the northern city of Szczecin.
“The arrests are the result of information collected earlier by the Internal Security Agency (ABW) about an extremist group whose aim was to intimidate Muslims living in Poland,” the statement said.
“The materials gathered during the investigation show the group modelled itself on terrorist attacks carried out by extremists including Anders Breivik (in 2011 in Norway) and Brenton Tarrant (in 2019 in New Zealand).”
The group intended to carry out attacks using firearms and explosives, the statement said, and during one search of a house in the Warsaw suburb of Wlochy, ABW agents found materials for making large quantities of explosives, guns and ammunition.
Breivik, an anti-Muslim neo-Nazi, massacred 77 people in Norway’s worst peacetime atrocity in July 2011.
Tarrant has been charged with an attack broadcast live on Facebook in 2019 on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 51 people and wounded dozens.