PRESS RELEASE: NOT WISE TO RELOCATE ROHINGYA REFUGEES TO ISLAND

March 12, 2019

The Malaysian Consultative Counci of Slamic Organization (MAPIM) calls the Bangladesh goverment to reconsider the next month plans to relocate 23,000 refugees to an uninhabited island prone to cyclones.

We feel that the relocation may create a new risk as warned by a United Nations human rights envoy,
Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on Myanmar.

The Bhasan Char is not only a too distance away from the border, it is also not habitable.

As pointed out by Yanghee Lee, an “ill-planned” relocations without the consent of refugees “have the potential to create a new crisis”.

We are very concern of the physifical condition of the island, being , a muddy, low-lying island that floods frequently during monsoon season and offers few livelihood opportunities.

We acknowledge the dilema of Bangladesh. However it is most appropriate for the Bangladeshi government to work closely with the international agencies to eventually deal with the 100,000 Rohingyas that it plans to relocate to relieve pressure on the camps.

The big question is how will the relocation be executed if not by force. The possibility of people refusing to move is high.

We regret that The Myanmar government, led by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, denied Yanghee’s access to the country during her trip.

The technical and habitability assessment of the island should be done before final decision is made for the relocation process.

It is only logical that the assessment be conducted to move such a huge movement of people who have no belonging with them.

Even the listed British and Chinese engineers to help prepare the island for the planned arrivals and involvement of British firm HR Wallingford in the project has sparked criticism from UK-based campaigners.

The firm was named as the firm on a “dirty list” of companies that was said to be were involved in projects related to human rights violations.

According to the Guardian the company has no business inside Myanmar but only has been engaged in Bangladesh to design flood defense on Bhasan Char.

The failure to halt the continuing civilians exodus is appaling. 10,000 civilians have fled their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state since November last year due to violence and a lack of humanitarian aid.

We abhore the inaction of the international agencies resulting escalating sufferings due to
clashes between the military and the Arakan Army, a Rakhine rebel group.

The clashes had led to the deaths of “several civilians … including of children”.

We object strongly the government’s decision to instruct aid agencies to suspend their activities in several areas of the state in January.

The move was a “violation of Myanmar’s international humanitarian obligation” to allow access for aid agencies.

 

Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamd

President MAPIM

 

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