Burma Times Correspondent: May 29, 2015
Refugees in Nayapara and Kutupalong have expressed concerns at the Bangladesh government plan to relocate them to a remote island.
According to media reports quoting Bangladesh government officials, the registered refugees are to be relocated to the Hatiya island.
“The relocation of the Rohingya camps will definitely take place. So far informal steps have been taken according to directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” Amit Kumar Baul, head of the government’s Myanmar Refugee Cell has told AFP.
But refugees say such a move will not have their approval. “I disagree with the Bangladesh government on this,” said Maulavi Ruhul Amin of Nayapara refugee camp. He says that they have been living here for more than two decades and they are comfortable with the surroundings. A move to another area will trigger off insecurity, something the beleaguered community can ill afford.
Others say that the presence of so many Burmese refugees in this part of the country has already triggered off tensions with the local populace. But even then they have now found a sort of acceptance and they co-exist more or less peacefully with the Bangladeshi people. “We are very grateful to the government of Bangladesh and the people for letting us into their country,” says Noor Ahmed of Nayapara. “We understand that Bangladesh is an over populated country and it has been difficult accepting more people here. Now if we move to another part of this country, there will be tensions with the local populace in that area. We don’t want to have any tensions with the Bangladeshi people,” he says.
His views are echoed by others. “We know that we have been a burden on this part of the country. Now we don’t want to be a burden on Hatiya,” says Md Rafique of Kutupalong. He also says that in the remote island, livelihood options will be limited and their standard of living will go down.
Zorina of Kutupalong has another fear – – the sea. “I heard that Hatiya is surrounded by the sea,” she says. Zorina fears that they will be easily kidnapped by human traffickers in that area.
None of the refugees interviewed by Burma Times has expressed their desire to relocate to Hatiya. Instead they requested the government of Bangladesh to put pressure on their neighbour to stop persecution of Rohingyas so that they can return to their country.
Altogether there are around 32,000 registered refugees in Nayapara and Kutupalong.