Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – There are calls for Australia to lobby Bangladesh to abandon plans to house on a flood-prone island 100,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in neighbouring Myanmar.
More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state have fled to Bangladesh since late August, following military atrocities the United Nations has dubbed a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing”, reports Australia base newspaper 9NEWS.
The Bangladesh government has allocated $US280 million ($A392 million) towards developing the uninhabitable Thenger Char in the Bay of Bengal.
Amnesty International has expressed grave concerns about the plan.
“It would be a terrible mistake to relocate the Rohingya refugees to an uninhabitable island that is far from other refugee settlements and vulnerable to flooding,” spokesman Biraj Patnaik said.
Australian Greens senator Nick McKim, who has recently returned from multiple trips to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea where Australia detained asylum seekers and refugees, said the proposal was inappropriate.
“The island is simply not fit for human habitation, it’s nothing more than an attempt to put 100,000 people out of sight and out of mind,” he told AAP.
Australia should lobby Bangladesh not to go ahead with the plan, he said.
Senator McKim said the island had only emerged from beneath the ocean about a decade ago.
“It’s extremely low lying, it’s subject to monsoonal storms, cyclones, and tidal flooding,” he said.