Relocation of the Rohingya Refugees to Bhasan Char: Human Rights, Government Policy, and the Refugee Crisis in Bangladesh

Relocation of the Rohingya Refugees to Bhasan Char: Human Rights, Government Policy, and the Refugee Crisis in Bangladesh

Copyright: © 2024 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-9467-7.ch014
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


This chapter explores the government policy of relocating the Rohingya refugees from Cox's Bazar to Bhasan Char from the perspectives of human rights and refugee rights. Drawing from existing literature and diverse discourses, it explores the complexities surrounding this issue. The transfer of some Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char by the government of Bangladesh has raised concerns among human rights activists and development workers about potential human rights violations and the safety of these displaced individuals. This chapter aims to critically analyse the issues related to the Rohingya refugee crisis, like mass political asylum, the policy of non-refoulement, violence against humanity, and the impact of the Bangladeshi government's decision to relocate the Rohingya refugees on their human rights, in light of the concepts involved in international law.
Chapter Preview


The Rohingya have been stateless for more than six generations and constitute one of the most mistreated and persecuted refugee populations globally (Milton et al., 2017). The Rohingya people are one of the ethnic minorities in Myanmar, predominantly residing in Rakhine State. However, they have endured a long history of marginalization and discrimination in Myanmar, which has deprived them of their basic human rights and citizenship. The Rohingyas were denied citizenship under the Myanmar Citizenship Act of 1982 and have suffered a series of horrific abuses, torturous acts, and oppression. As a result, a significant number of the Rohingyas seeks asylum in neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. (Ullah, 2011; Parnini et al., 2013; Prodip, 2017; Shohel, 2022; Rahman, 2022). The major influx in 2017 left the global community utterly astonished, as the brutal ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya ethnic minority resulted in the largest displacement and statelessness in recent history (Shohel, 2023).

The Rohingya refugee crisis has been one of the most pressing humanitarian challenges for the past few years, although the crisis has been ongoing for decades to varying degrees and reached a horrifying scale in 2017. The crisis escalated in August 2017 when a violent crackdown by the Myanmar military targeted the Rohingya population, resulting in widespread human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, and the burning of the Rohingya villages. This military operation led to a mass exodus of the Rohingya refugees seeking safety and protection in neighbouring countries, particularly Bangladesh. According to the UNHCR (2022), more than 742,000 Rohingyas fled in search of safety on 25 August 2017 and Bangladesh became the site of the largest refugee camp. Approximately 203,431 Rohingyas were already living in the Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas of Cox’s Bazar district, having entered Bangladesh between July 2005 and August 2017, adding to the already significant population of the Rohingya refugees who had sought refuge in Bangladesh from previous influxes (Khatun, 2017).

Due to severe violence and bigotry in their own country, the Rohingya children have become victims of mass displacement, with some of them being domestically or internationally displaced. They have been deprived of their basic human rights, including food, shelter, healthcare, education, freedom of movement and employment (Milton et al., 2017; Moniruzzaman, 2021; Islam et al., 2022). When they ended up as stateless refugees during the period of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which emphasises equality, equity, and social justice, their fundamental human rights were violated. Approximately 961,729, stateless Rohingyas, including 52% of children, currently live in overcrowded and dire conditions in refugee camps (UNHCR population factsheet; June 2023). The Rohingya children in refugee camps in Bangladesh struggle and have limited access to healthcare and formal education. Some of them face serious health issues due to a lack of nourishing food, medical attention, medications, and basic hygiene. Young girls, in particular, are at risk of gender-based abuse, child marriage, and trafficking for manual labour and prostitution (Shohel et al., 2022).

In the midst of the overwhelming Rohingya refugee crisis in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, the government took a significant step by relocating 100,000 Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char, an island in the Bay of Bengal. Relocation to Bhasan Char was presented as a solution to alleviate the overcrowded camps and provide a safer and better living environment for the refugees (Hossain, 2020b).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Refoulement: Refoulement is a phrase that is frequently used in relation to international law and human rights, particularly in the context of refugee protection. The forced return or expulsion of refugees or asylum seekers to a nation where they risk persecutory action, danger, or harm is referred to. Refoulement is against the principle of non-refoulement, which forbids returning people to locations where their life or freedom would be in danger. It is also regarded as a breach of international refugee law and human rights law.

Ethnic Minority: An ethnic minority is a group of people who are different from the majority population in a certain area or nation due to shared cultural, linguistic, or ethnic characteristics.

Susceptibility: The term susceptibility describes how easily someone or a system can be harmed or impacted by something, like a sickness, outside forces, ideas, or recommendations. It illustrates how quickly certain circumstances or stimuli can have an influence on or affect an entity. For instance, in terms of health, a person with a compromised immune system may be more vulnerable to infections.

Rohingya Crisis: The Rohingyas, a Muslim and ethnic minority from the Rakhine state of Myanmar are the most persecuted minority group and have been denied citizenship and rendered stateless by the military government of Myanmar in 1982 and consequently forced to flee to neighbouring countries. The Rohingya crisis resulted from human rights abuses and Injustice, brutality, and discrimination committed by the government of Myanmar against the Rohingya people over a long period of time. There has been no progress in the Rohingya refugee situation after years of negotiations and currently an estimated 3.5 million Rohingya refugees are dispersed around the world.

Bhasan Char: In the Bay of Bengal, close to Bangladesh's shore, is the island of Bhasan Char. Due to the Bangladeshi government's development of it as a relocation site for Rohingya refugees who have escaped violence and persecution in Myanmar (Burma), it has drawn attention from all over the world. To accommodate a segment of the Rohingya refugee population residing in congested camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, the government of Bangladesh has built housing facilities and infrastructure in Bhasan Char.

Relocation: Relocation is the process of shifting something or someone from one location to another. It involves moving and relocating to a different destination. According to the European Commission, relocation enables the movement of individuals or refugees who already have international protection status and those who require it to a new place where they will be provided protections and rights similar to those of the initial place.

Refugees: Refugees are those who have decided to leave their home because of war, conflict, persecution, or fear of persecution. According to international law, a person who resides outside of their country of nationality or normal residence, who can demonstrate a well-founded fear of being persecuted on specified grounds, and who lacks protection from their homeland is considered a refugee.

Population Displacement: When a sizable number of people are forcibly removed from their homes or other places of residence owing to a variety of events, such as violence, natural catastrophes, environmental factors, or development projects, this is referred to as population displacement.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: