Would you want to live here….?
How would the Bangladeshis feel if we were to house Bangladesh workers in the mosquito-infested Sungei Buloh wetland? How would they feel if other countries treat Bangladeshi workers like dirt?
Just like how they plan to treat the Rohingya refugees.
The Bangladesh government is proposing to relocate thousands of Rohingya refugees, who are fellow Muslims on an island of Thengar Char that disappears completely under several feet of water at high tide, and has no roads or flood defences.
The UN refugee agency, which has been helping them since 1992, said a move would be “logistically challenging” – an assessment confirmed by a recent visit to the area by AFP.
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.
“At high tide the entire island is under three to four feet (about 1m) of water,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“It is impossible to live there,” he said, comparing the plan to “compelling a guest to sit on a spiked chair after inviting him to your home”.
Low-lying Thengar Char, around 30km east of Hatiya island, only emerged from the sea around eight years ago and does not appear on Google Maps.
Rights groups have expressed concern at the proposed relocation of the refugees living in Cox’s Bazar, which comes as Bangladesh is under scrutiny over its treatment of the Rohingya.
“There are other islands nearby, habitable for humans,” said the forest department official.
“But somehow, this island, which becomes inundated during every single high-tide was proposed as the relocation site.”