Plight of refugees gets more and more hapless - GulfToday

Plight of refugees gets more and more hapless


Bangladesh intends to move some of the Rohingya refugees to an island which is highly prone to flooding.

If there is one breed of people whose position shows no sign of improvement, it is the refugees. Be it in Bangladesh or Lebanon, their predicament seems precarious as they get tossed around from place to place – homeless, hapless, helpless.

Bangladesh is set to move a second batch of Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Myanmar to the remote island of Bhasan Char in the Bay of Bengal this month, officials said on Sunday, despite calls by rights groups not to carry out further relocations.

Around 1,000 Rohingya refugees, members of a Muslim minority who have fled Myanmar, will be moved to the island in the next few days after Bangladesh relocated more than 1,600 early this month.

“They will be moved to Chittagong first and then to Bhasan Char, depending on the high tide,” one official said. The officials declined to be named as the issue had not been made public.

Mohammed Shamsud Douja, the deputy Bangladesh government official in charge of refugees, said the relocation was voluntary. “They will not be sent against their will.”

But refugees and humanitarian workers state some of the Rohingya have been coerced into going to the island, which emerged from the sea 20 years ago.

The United Nations has said it has not been allowed to carry out a technical and safety assessment of Bhasan Char, a flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal, and was not involved in the transfer of refugees there.

Bangladesh says it is transferring only people who are willing to go and the move will ease chronic overcrowding in camps that are home to more than a million Rohingya.

Several attempts to kickstart repatriation of Rohingya to Myanmar have failed after refugees said they were too fearful of further violence to return.

A report in the Independent last year says more children are going to risk their lives getting onto UK-bound lorries after Brexit, according to experts who warn that a loss of legal routes and reduced cooperation with European law enforcement will push unaccompanied minors into the hands of people smugglers.

Charities said young people who have travelled alone to Europe in a bid to join relatives in Britain will become more vulnerable to sexual and criminal exploitation, as current mechanisms to track their whereabouts across borders are likely to be scrapped when the UK leaves the EU.

The scenario is also grim in Lebanon. More than 300 Syrian refugees were forced to flee an informal camp in northern Lebanon as a blaze raged through and burnt tents to the ground. The fire ensued following a fight between a Lebanese family and Syrians living in the camp in the al-Miniyeh district in the country’s north, according to Lebanese media reports.

The statement said the Lebanese men had fired weapons into the air and torched the tents. The army also confiscated weapons during the raids and said it expected to make further arrests.

Fights between residents and Syrian refugees often “catastrophically impact the community as a whole.”

Tensions are common in Lebanon between citizens and Syrian refugees who have fled the war in their country.

Lebanon is host to more than a million refugees, nearly a quarter of the country’s population of 5 million, burdening the nation’s already crumbling infrastructure.

Hundreds of migrants and refugees were stuck in a makeshift camp in a Bosnian forest in December last year. They were struggling to survive in subzero temperatures as snow weighed down on their tents, spurring fears that some might die unless they were resettled soon.

Refugees are human beings, like the rest of us. They deserve dignity, they deserve respect.

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