Bangladesh has quarantined dozens of Rohingya refugees stranded at sea for weeks in a remote, uninhabited island in the Bay of Bengal that it has developed for refugees, citing fears of COVID-19 spread, CNN reported.
“We sent them to Bhasan Char to keep them isolated from people in the Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar,” Benar News quoted the country’s Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen Momen as saying. He added “Who knows whether they are infected with coronavirus or not?”
Bangladesh is developing a cyclone-prone island Bhashan Char -- also known as Thengar Char- as spot for docking refugees.
Cox's Bazar, currently hosts close to one million Rohingya refugees. They have been kept in strict lockdown since early April. Only very limited movement is allowed within the squalid cluster of makeshift camps.
The refugees sent to Bhashan Char were among hundreds of Rohingya Muslim refugees trapped at sea for weeks after attempting to flee to Malaysia. Malayasia refused permission and blocked entry.
Last month, UNHCR says 30 Rohingya refugees died at sea after a boat "ran out of food, water and fuel during a nearly two-month long journey at sea.
Myanmar considers the Rohingya as ‘ illegal immigrants’ from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship although many of their families have been in that country for several generations. They are deprived of access to basic services, such as education and health care.
At least one million Rohingyas are said to have taken refuge in in Bangladesh. A huge exodus occurred in 2017 when Burmese military launched a brutal crackdown in response to deadly attacks by an Rohingya insurgent group on government security posts.
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