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Current Affairs 2023

Bhasan Char Island - UPSC Current Affairs

Bhasan Char, formerly known as Thengar Char, is a man-made island located in the Bay of Bengal, 37 miles from the mainland of Bangladesh. The island spans 40 square kilometers and was created in 2006. The Bangladeshi government planned to resettle 100,000 Rohingya refugees on the island, with over 28,000 already relocated as of May 2022.

Mar 19, 2023

3 min read

Bhasan Char Island, previously known as Thengar Char, is a 40 square kilometer island in the Bay of Bengal, located 6 kilometers from Sandwip island and 60 kilometers from the mainland. The island was formed by silt brought by the Himalayan Rivers in 2006 and was initially uninhabited. However, the Government of Bangladesh had a plan to relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees from the mainland camps of Cox's Bazar to Bhasan Char.

 

The idea of relocating Rohingya refugees to the island was first suggested in June 2015. However, the United Nations Refugee Agency expressed concerns over the logistical challenges of the proposal. Despite this, on January 26, 2017, the Bangladeshi government ordered the resettlement of Rohingya refugees on the island.

 

The proposal faced criticism from human rights groups, with Human Rights Watch calling it "a human rights and humanitarian disaster in the making." However, the government went ahead with the project, and by December 2019, the public works had amounted to 309.5 million takas, with the Bangladesh Navy building much of the infrastructure.

 

In August 2019, the government announced the expansion of the Ashrayan Project to build 100,000 homes on Bhasan Char. The houses were built four feet above the ground to protect the refugees from high tidal waves. The additional projects included raising the flood-protection embankment and construction of cluster villages, mosques, shelter stations, hospitals, water channelling infrastructure, roads, infrastructure for farming, and numerous other land development works under the project.

 

Between December 2020 and January 2021, the first two groups of around 4,000 Rohingya were sent to the island. On January 29, 2021, another 1,778 Rohingya refugees started their journey to the island, with a fourth group to be moved the next day. The process of moving Rohingya refugees to the island will continue until 100,000 have arrived, according to authorities. By March 2021, 13,000 Rohingya lived on the island, and a UN delegation visited the island for the first time, signing a memorandum to help the refugees.

 

As of May 2022, the Government of Bangladesh has relocated approximately 28,000 Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char. While the refugees may work and contribute to the economy, they are not allowed to move off the island. The island is seen as a temporary solution until the refugees can return home.

 

The relocation of Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char has been a controversial issue, with concerns over the safety and living conditions on the island. However, the government has worked to address these concerns and ensure the safety and wellbeing of the refugees on the island. The project is ongoing, and it remains to be seen how successful it will be in providing a safe and sustainable solution for the Rohingya refugees.

 

Image courtesy: National News Agency of Bangladesh

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