Bangladesh sends more Rohingya refugees to remote, flood-prone island

Rohingya refugees being transported by a navy ship to Bhasan Char island on Jan 29, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA (REUTERS) - A group of more than 1,700 Rohingya Muslim refugees set sail for a remote island in the Bay of Bengal on Friday (Jan 29), with more readying to go on Saturday, a Bangladesh navy official said, despite concerns about the risk of storms and floods lashing the site.

They are the newest addition to the roughly 3,500 Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Myanmar that Bangladesh has sent to the island of Bhasan Char since early December from border camps where a million live in ramshackle huts.

"Today, we are expecting 1,700-plus people to arrive here," Commodore Abdullah Al Mamun Chowdhury, the officer in charge of the island, told Reuters by telephone on Friday.

More Rohingya who had volunteered to move to the island were being transferred to the nearest port city of Chittagong from the camps, he added.

"Tomorrow, they will be moved to Bhasan Char. Altogether, we are expecting 3,000-plus people," Commodore Chowdhury said.

The island, which emerged from the sea just two decades ago, is several hours' journey away from the southern port.

The Rohingya, a minority group who fled violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, are not allowed to move off the island without permission from the government.

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