The Bangladesh authorities have sent a third group of Rohingya refugees to a remote, flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal, a Bangladesh navy official said. The comes despite concerns over the risk of storms and floods lashing the site.
The new batch of 1,778 started their journey to the island on Friday morning, in four navy vessels from the southeastern port city of Chattogram. They are the new addition to the existing 3,500 refugees brought from neighboring Myanmar.
“Today we are expecting 1,700-plus people to arrive here,” after they were brought from crammed camps in Cox’s Bazar district, confirms Commodore Abdullah Al Mamun Chowdhury, officer-in-charge of the island.
The commander of the Bangladesh navy, M Mozammel Haque, said, “Around 4,000 refugees have already been sent to the island since December, but we have the capacity of accommodating 100,000. The process will continue until we fulfil it.”
Haque also claims that the ethnic group is being treated well on the island and that they can earn money for livelihood by rearing cattle or poultry and could also engage in making handicrafts.
The move comes despite strong objection by the human rights groups against carrying out the relocation plan.
However, the Dhaka authorities have insisted that relocation is being done on a voluntary basis and “to offer better living conditions”.
The fourth batch of Rohingyas are slated to arrive in the Bansal Char island today.
The Rohingyas, as described by the United Nations, are the world’s most persecuted people to face heightened threat to life.
The island surfaced only 20 years ago and was not previously inhabited. However, the Bangladesh navy has built floor-protection embankments, hospital, houses and mosques at a cost of $112 million.
Despite calls by the rights groups against the relocation, the Bangladesh government have reiterated that the human rights groups and the UN should understand its good intention