Red Cross warns of 'serious problems' with remote Bangladesh island housing Rohingya refugees
November 25, 2021 at 02:42
A senior Red Cross official warned that "serious problems" remain with a remote island off southern Bangladesh housing Rohingya refugees, as officials prepared to ship thousands more people there this week.
Since last December, Bangladesh has moved about 19,000 Rohingya refugees, members of a persecuted mostly Muslim minority from Myanmar, to the island of Bhasan Char from mainland border camps.
Rights groups have likened it to an island jail and said some relocations were involuntary.
Alexander Matheou, Asia-Pacific director for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said restrictions on free movement and a shortage of job opportunities and health care would "deter people from choosing to go in large numbers" to the island, several hours' from the mainland.
Matheou, who visited on Tuesday, told Reuters by phone the site was "well-designed and organized in terms of housing" and had access to clean water, but the health services were "too basic to cope with a large population" and there was no established system of referrals to the mainland.