The UN refugee agency, which has been helping the Rohingya for more than 20 years, said such a move would be ‘logistically challenging’
The remote Bangladeshi island of Thengar Char disappears completely under several feet of water at high tide, and has no roads or flood defences.
But that hasn’t stopped the government from proposing to relocate thousands of Rohingya refugees living in camps in the south-eastern district of Cox’s Bazar which borders Burma to its marshy shores.
Bangladesh said last month it was looking to move the around 32,000 registered refugees – in part because they were hampering tourism in the coastal resort district – home to the world’s longest unbroken beach.
The proposal has been met with alarm from leaders of the Rohingya, who began arriving more than two decades ago after fleeing persecution in Burma, and whose desperate search for a secure homeland has recently been thrown into the spotlight by a regional smuggling crisis.
The UN refugee agency, which has been helping them since 1992, said a move would be “logistically challenging”.
Police on the neighbouring island of Hatiya prevented the boat AFP was travelling on from going to Thengar Char, saying they could not guarantee its safety.
But accounts from local people and a forest department official who oversaw the 2011 planting of mangroves on Thengar Char gave an indication of the challenges.