U.N deal offers no guarantees of free movement for Rohingya on island – leaked copy

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A deal for the United Nations to start work on a remote Bangladeshi island where the government has sent thousands of Rohingya refugees offers no guarantee they will be allowed to move freely to the mainland, according to a copy of the agreement.

The Bangladesh government has moved nearly 19,000 Rohingya refugees, members of a persecuted mostly Muslim minority from Myanmar, to Bhasan Char island from border camps, despite protests by refugees and opposition from rights groups, who have likened it to an island jail and said some relocations were involuntary.

Refugees have called for freedom of movement between the remote and floodprone island, several hours off the coast, and the sprawling mainland camps near the port town of Cox’s Bazar, while dozens have died in recent months attempting to flee on rickety boats.

The U.N refugee agency, which had previously refused to provide humanitarian services on Bhasan Char until assessments were completed, did not respond to request for comment on why the deal, signed in early October, had not been made public or its contents.

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