One year on: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

At least 90 percent of the Rohingya population in Myanmar’s Rakhine state fled to neighbouring Bangladesh last year to escape a campaign of violence conducted by the Myanmar army and described by the United Nations as “textbook ethnic cleansing”.

Since August 25, 2017, some 700,000 people crossed the border, bringing with them stories of extreme violence, burned villages, murders and rape.

According to the UN, Bangladesh is hosting more than 960,000 Rohingya refugees, including those who arrived a year ago. But the Bangladeshi authorities say the number exceeds one million.

The vast majority of the latest arrivals are located in the densely-populated Kutupalong-Balukhali complex, known as the “Mega Camp” and home to more than 600,000 people.

Bangladeshi authorities have recently announced plans to relocate 100,000 Rohingya living in border camps to Bhasan Char, an uninhabited river island that emerged from the silt around 20 years ago in the Bay of Bengal.

The government says it will spend some $280m to build housing and infrastructure, suggesting that the island could be used by Bangladeshi people once the Rohingya population is repatriated.

But the plan has drawn criticism from human rights groups, with Human Rights Watch saying the island is unfit to build accommodation on because of its vulnerability to high waves, tides and extreme weather events.

One year into the latest Rohingya crisis, Aung San Suu Kyi has meanwhile defended her government’s actions in Rakhine state and refused to recognise the atrocities committed by the Myanmar military.

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