‘There is no noise’: inside the controversial Bhasan Char refugee camp – A Photo Essay

Approximate Read Time :1 Minutes

I wanted to come here. No one forced me, and my wife also agreed in a snap.

To be honest, though, I didn’t tell my brother. He lives where I used to live – Kutupalong camp. He is very against this island for some reason. He might have tried to stop me coming if I dared to discuss the topic. So I didn’t. I only told him after I arrived. I was amazed that he didn’t yell at me.

Instead he wondered if he would ever see me again and even got a bit emotional.

Rohingya refugee accomodation in the remote island of Bhasan Char.
Now when we phone each other, we compare facts and figures. On the island, we get 15kg of rice per head. They get only 13kg in the camps. We get 500g more dal and 1kg more potatoes here too. I am winning so far in our comparisons. We have been here just over one month. We are getting used to it.
Rohingya refugee accommodation in the remote island of Bhasan Char.

‘I heard from one journalist that they spent $350m on this island. He told me I should be happy. I should not complain about anything’

For some reason, I don’t sleep properly. When I lie awake, in the dead of night, I can hear the sea and sometimes the horn of berthing ships. I feel a bit strange then but by the morning that feeling goes away. My children ask if their little friends from our neighbourhood back in the camp will come to the island. I really don’t know what to tell them. I guess they will find new friends here soon when their school starts.

There are a lot of children here, and when they play and get noisy it makes this island feel better, to tell you the truth –and less abnormal. The buildings are all the same here. We live on the ground floor. There are some tall buildings. Refugees are not permitted on the upper floors. Maybe they think we will kill ourselves?

Rohingya refugee accomodation in the remote island of Bhasan Char.‘Right now this place is OK. But with thousands more, I am not sure’

We can only ascend if there is a cyclone. Those floors are used by administration and [for] other purposes. When I think of the camp, I miss getting together with my mates in our favourite tea stalls after Maghrib or Isha prayers. I miss the Burmese tea and coffee mixes we get in the camps like Rich Mix. And I miss boma lapase, which you mix with water. That stuff is addictive.

Rohingya refugee accomodation in the remote island of Bhasan Char.

‘Most of the refugees here I think are children. Without children this place would seem even more abnormal’

I feel sad and guilty about my parents. I guess I also abandoned those kids I used to give private tuition to. I worry about them. If I hadn’t fallen into debt and if the thugs in the camp didn’t harass me like they used to – so much so that I feared for my life – I guess I wouldn’t be here. God knows. Most of all, I hope my parents will forgive me some day.

Rohingya refugee accomodation in the remote island of Bhasan Char.

‘In the camp, there is a lot of noise. Here there is no noise. Sometimes we hear a ship sound. It is very strange’

The story is derived from a syndicated feed and Team TOV has not made any amendments to it.

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