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Bangladesh starts relocating Rohingya refugees

Rohingya refugees board a ship on the way to to Bhashan Char island on Friday. Associated Press/ Photo by Saleh Noman

Bangladesh starts relocating Rohingya refugees

Bangladeshi authorities on Thursday transported the first group of Rohingya refugees to the remote island of Bhashan Char, or “floating island,” in the Bay of Bengal. The island, located 21 miles from the mainland, only emerged 20 years ago and has never been inhabited. Bangladesh received some 700,000 Rohingya in 2017 after a military crackdown in neighboring Myanmar, also known as Burma, targeted the minority population.

What are the concerns over the move? Bangladesh’s navy spent $112 million preparing the island to support 100,000 people. It now hosts schools, homes, flood protection embankments, and a water supply system. But international aid groups have opposed the relocation, pointing to flooding concerns during the monsoon season. Refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar are overcrowded, and the refugees, who don’t have citizenship rights in Burma, have refused to return there.

Dig deeper: Read Anna Poole’s report on the violence faced by Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims.

Samantha Gobba

Samantha is a freelancer for WORLD Digital. She is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute, holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Hillsdale College, and has a multiple-subject teaching credential from California State University. Samantha resides in Chico, Calif., with her husband and their two sons.


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Bhashan Char is not a "floating island."  It appeared naturally in the Bay of Bengal 20-some years ago, as the result of accumulated silt washing into the bay from mainland rivers. Because of its appearance it was called a "floating island," which is the English translation of Bhashan Char.