Bangladesh's plan to relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees to an uninhabited island is not expected to get much response for funding from other countries or agencies, a state minister said in an interview.
Bangladesh has planned to build homes and fortify the muddy island in the Bay of Bengal cyclones. The country is mulling a formal request for international funds. As of now Bangladesh is paying the entire roughly USD 280 million to facilitate the relocation, the minister of state for foreign affairs, Mohammed Shahriar Alam, told Reuters
No refugees who fled a military crackdown in Myanmar would be moved there against their will, he added.
The project does not have a timeline yet, "We don't have a timeline because it's a lot of money," Alam said at Bangladesh's United Nations office in New York. "We are so far building it with our own finances. I am not very hopeful about how much funds the international community will be able to raise."
In an already poor and one of the most crowded countries, the latest wave of refugees exceeded the total count to over 300,000 Rohingya refugees already in Bangladesh. A UN coordination branch has requested USD 951 million for immediate relief.
Bangladesh sees the island as a temporary arrangement for refugees but has given conflicting signals on how much freedom they would have to leave once there.
Alam said Bangladesh shared the building designs with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which suggested "we engage people, countries and organizations to come help and contribute" to the cost. "We are yet to do it," the minister said. "We haven't decided on that."
(With inputs from Reuters)