Get our newsletter delivered directly to your inbox
I have already subscribed | Do not show this message again
Your email has been successfully registered.
"We don't want any more Rohingya," Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said.
Rohingya sent by Bangladesh to a flood-prone island after being stranded at sea for weeks should be moved to refugee camps, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Bangladesh’s foreign minister in a letter obtained Sunday by AFP.
Bangladesh rescued more than 300 Rohingya earlier this month after they were stuck in the Bay of Bengal for several weeks in inhumane conditions. Then, the country sent them to Bhashan Char, an island located in a cyclone-prone area.
Dhaka said refugees were sent to the island rather than the camps in Cox's Bazar for health security reasons as authorities were afraid some might have the coronavirus.
"While those rescued at sea may be quarantined for public health purposes, they must also be extended the protection they deserve as refugees," Guterres said in the letter to Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen dated Friday.
"I trust that they too will benefit from the humanitarian services offered to the Rohingya in Bangladesh and that, at the end of their quarantine period… they will be allowed to rejoin their families in Cox's Bazar."
Momen told AFP he had yet to receive the letter but said those concerned about Bhashan Char - where facilities for 100,000 people were built last year - should host the Rohingya in their own countries.
"We don't want any more Rohingya," Momen said.
"We don't have any other place to keep them. If they (other countries) don't like Bhashan Char, let them take them back to their countries. (Or) else, let them return to Myanmar."
He said pressure should instead be put on Myanmar to repatriate the Rohingya to their home state of Rakhine.
The Rohingya, who have faced generations of ethnic persecution in Myanmar, have crowded into camps in Cox's Bazar on the southeast coast of Bangladesh. Emergency teams are currently racing to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the camps after several cases were confirmed.
In the meantime, Amnesty International reported Friday that at least 1,000 Rohingya remain stranded off the coast of Indonesia's Aceh as Southeast Asian nations are refusing to let them land.
Citing reports from human rights agencies, Saad Hammadi, from the South Asia Regional Office of Amnesty International, said the refugees could have been sailing for several weeks or even months without food or water.