1,776 more Rohingyas sail for Bhashan Char

Some 1,776 more Rohingyas are set to be relocated to Bhashan Char in Hatiya upazila of Noakhali today.

The second batch of Rohingyas from 428 families of refugee camps have already reached Chattogram from Cox’s Bazar yesterday, witnesses said.

Witnesses in Ukhia and Teknaf said the Rohingyas, who would like to go to Bhashan Char voluntarily, were taken to Chattogram on buses amid presence of law enforcers.

They said officials briefed the refugees on how they would be taken to the island and gave them breakfast in the transit camp at Ukhia Degree College ground and then they were taken to Chattogram.

The refugees will be taken to Bhashan Char from Chattogram Boat Club on navy ship this morning, officials said.

Rohingya leaders said they became interested in moving to Bhashan Char after knowing the detailed facilities in the island.

They said many are showing interest to go to Bhashan Char and they are including their names in the list to move there.

The first batch — of 1,642 Rohingyas — was relocated to the island on December 4.

Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner is coordinating the relocation process amid concerns of the international community about the island being a risky place for the refugees.

Rohingyas of the first batch expressed their satisfaction and said they chose to move to the facilities — being built under a Tk 3,100-crore housing project by the Bangladesh Navy — for safety and comfort.

They added that not only were the living conditions poor in their makeshift homes in the Cox’s Bazar camps, fighting between rival gangs had made their lives even more difficult.

They believe they can live a better life on the char with greater access to healthcare, education and work.

Compared to the cramped conditions in the camps, the housing project is a better option, they said.

In the camps, a family of six-eight members would have to live together within a 400-square-foot space.

The UN and other development partners, however, expressed concerns and demanded independent assessments of the housing project before relocation began. A UN team has still not been allowed to visit the island.

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The UN and rights groups have been questioning the relocation plan, saying the island was prone to floods and could be submerged during high tides