Cyclone Amphan proves Bhasan Char is safe for Rohingyas: FM

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Friday said that the powerful cyclone Amphan, that killed many lives and destroyed thousands of homes in Bangladesh, proved that ‘Bhasan Char is safe for Rohingyas’.

He made the comment as the river island remained unharmed with its 306 Rohingyas who were taken there recently after being rescued from their small boats floating on the Bay of Bengal.

Aid agencies have been preventing the government to relocate Rohingyas from Cox’s Bazar citing safety and security of those nationals who fled Myanmar army’s ethnic cleansing.

The foreign minister, however, believes that the resistance is due to the inconveniences of the aid agencies to visit and stay at Bhasan Char where there is no four star, five start rated hotels like in Cox’s Bazar.

Bangladesh gave shelter to over 1.1 million Ronihyas who are living in crowded conditions in the Cox’s Bazar camps.
The government developed the river island, Bhasan Char, at the estuary of Meghna River for human habitation with all the facilities, but due to international pressure could not relocate Rohingyas there.

The foreign minister said the government knew it very well that nothing would happen to the people of Bhasan Char since “we built two strong dams using foreign experts”.

“One around the sea is 10 feet high and the other is 33 feet high. So there is no way to enter water in cyclones from outside,” he said, adding that “it’s a beautiful place to live in”.
“But still we had fears since development partners were asking us what will happen to them and why did we take them (Rohingyas) to there,” he said, adding that “if anything happens to Rohingyas, then blame falls on our shoulder, though we have given them shelter”.

He also reminded all that Rohingya is a global problems, it is not a Bangladesh crisis.
He said all countries and rights bodies look to Bangladesh whenever is a problem in the Andaman Sea or Indian Ocean of stranded Rohingyas at sea.

“As if we have sheltered 1.1 million Rohingyas and we will have to give shelter to others, too,” he said, adding that he urged the European ambassadors who talked with him recently to relocate Rohingyas to their own countries.

On May 20, the Foreign Minister held a meeting through videoconferencing with Ambassadors of Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the European Union Delegation in Dhaka on the Covid-19 situation.

During the meeting, the Rohingya issue also came up.

Dr Momen called upon the Ambassadors to share the burden of providing better life and living for persecuted Rohingyas in their own countries or relocate and settle them in third countries.

He said almost three years have passed and although Myanmar agreed to take them back, not a single Rohingya went back home yet.

Dr Momen told them that Bangladesh per capita income is around 2000 US dollars with a density of population around 1200 per sq. mile.

“Bangladesh's situation is different to that of the EU where their per capita income is around 50,000 dollars and density of population is as low as 15 per sq. mile,” Dr Momen said.

“Therefore, one must be pragmatic,” said a foreign ministry statement.