Rohingya migrants are being pushed to “concentration camp-like structures” on an island off of Bangladesh, according to exclusive footage released by the Guardian Tuesday.
An anonymous activist, unnamed for safety reasons, working with the Guardian reports that dozens of the concrete buildings have been constructed for the 100,000 Rohingya refugees who will be transferred to the remote “sanctuary” in 2019.
“The island is completely administered by the military and the only other people on the island are day laborers,” the activist said, describing the silt and cyclone-prone island as “eerie.”
“This feels more like a prison camp than a refugee haven,” the Guardian source added.
NGOs and various human rights groups have denounced the relocation plan as dangerous for the Myanmar migrants who traveled to the neighboring nation in search of refuge after suffering inhuman torture and death for their religion by extremist groups last year.
Over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims escaped to Bangladesh during what the United Nations has referred to as an “ethnic cleansing.”
Located some 30 km, or three hours, offshore, the Bhasan Char Island has been known for severe flooding and cyclones. Many refugees have confessed their concerns about moving to the remote island; others have completely refused to go.
Asia’s director for Human Rights Watch said, “Bangladesh’s plan to transform a desolate isle into a packed settlement of Rohingya housed in stark concrete residential blocks raises concerns for both freedom of movement and long-term sustainability.”
Mabrur Ahmed, the Co-director of Restless Beings, a human right organization, told the Guardian, described initiative as just another “unhelpful” initiative, “The idea to shift hundreds and thousands of Rohingya from their existing community to an island which has changed shaped six times in the last 15 years seems to be more of an experiment than an offer of help from the Bangladesh government.”
In October, Bangladesh and Myanmar made a bilateral plan to repatriate Rohingya refugees back to the country from which the persecuted community fled a genocidal army crackdown. However, this plan was ultimately scrapped after national officials succumbed to the U.N. and many of the refugees selected for repatriation fled the camps.