Dhaka, May 22 (PTI) All Rohingya refugees staying at an island in the Bay of Bengal are safe after super-cyclone Amphan ravaged Bangladesh's southwestern coastlines, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said on Friday, dismissing the international concern about their safety.

Bangladesh last year constructed facilities for 100,000 people on Bhashan Char, a silt islet in the coastal belt, saying they needed to take the pressure off crowded border camps that are home to almost one million Rohingya.

“Many people thought that cyclone surges would inundate Bhashan Char but the tidal waves could not penetrate there...all who are staying at the island are safe,” he said in a statement through virtual media.

Cyclone Amphan has killed at least 22 people in Bangladesh and left many displaced in the country's coastal areas.

Cyclone 'Amphan', the strongest to hit the region in nearly two decades, made landfall on Wednesday evening. It was the most powerful storm since cyclone 'Sidr' killed nearly 3,500 people in 2007.

Momen said two mega-dams, the outer one being 12 feet high and inner structure being 33 feet high, ensured the protection of the offshore island.

“Records suggest the island never had witnessed tidal surges above 15 feet high . . . foreign companies built the dams which were strong enough to protect Bhashan Char from cyclone storms or surges,” the minister said.

The island is 37 miles off the mainland in the central part of Bangladesh coast under the administrative jurisdiction of Hatiya Upazila.

Over a million of the forcibly displaced people from Myanmar were provided refuge there. Momen said Bhashan Char could be a much better abode for the Rohingyas where they could live a normal life getting engaged in fishing, cattle farming and crop cultivation as means of their livelihood.

Momen also expressed doubts whether the foreign aid agencies were opposed to the relocation plan for the sake of the Rohingyas or their inconvenience.

Momen simultaneously criticized the attitudes of rights groups and various countries which suggest that it was Bangladesh which should shoulder the responsibility of the Rohingyas.

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