Composite satellite image of Bhasan Char
Images from DigitalGlobe and Planet composited by Quartz.

This is the island camp Bangladesh is building to house the Rohingya

By David Yanofsky

Feb. 27, 2018

It's in the of the Bay of Bengal.

Nine months ago, it looked like this.

May 2017

Satellite image of Bhasan Char
Landsat 8

17 years ago, it didn't exist.

The island formed naturally as river flows and tides deposited silts into the area.

April 2001

Satellite image of Bhasan Char
Landsat 5

Now, Bangladeshi officials are preparing the island—an effort expected to cost $278 million—to house people fleeing persecution in Myanmar.

Streets are being laid out.

February 2018

Image: Quartz composite of DigitalGlobe and Planet data

Earthen flood barriers are being constructed.

February 2018

Image: Quartz composite of DigitalGlobe and Planet data

Buildings are being erected.

February 2018

Image: Quartz composite of DigitalGlobe and Planet data

The UN’s refugee agency says that more than 600,000 have fled Myanmar into Bangladesh in the last six months. Reuters reports that this camp will house around 100,000 people.

The area within the barrier is about 7.75 square km (3 square mi). The regraded area where housing will be most likely built is just 1.5 square km.

February 2018

Image: Quartz composite of DigitalGlobe and Planet data

That's 12,900 people per square km inside the barrier, and 66,670 people per square km in the cleared area.

Within barrier

12,900 per square km

Cleared area

66,670 per square km

New York City, with its multi-story residential buildings and longstanding infrastructure, has about 11,000 people per square km.

New York City

10,935 per square km

Cleared area

66,670 per square km

Dhaka

44,500 per square km

Manila

41,515 per square km

Mumbai

31,700 per square km

Paris

21,289 per square km

Cairo

13,730 per square km

Within barrier

12,900 per square km

Sao Paulo

7,920 per square km

Hong Kong

6,633 per square km

Medellín

6,425 per square km

Data: UN

Of course, people in those cities have chosen to live there, and can come and go as they please.

It is unclear who'll be selected to live on the island, or under what circumstances they can leave.