Despite appeals by human rights organizations to stop the operation, the officials in Bangladesh sent a third category of Rohingya refugees to a newly created island in the Bay of Bengal.
1,778 refugees began their ride to the island of Bhasan Char on Friday morning in 4 navy vessels from the southeastern port city of Chattogram, after they were brought from crammed camps in Cox’s Bazar district, said M Mozammel Haque, a commander of the Bangladesh navy.
He said that on Saturday, a fourth batch will be sent to the island, situated 34km (21 miles) from the mainland.
“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 fulfill it,” he told reporters.
More About The Island:
The government maintains that the resettlement plan is intended to provide improved living conditions on the island. Though efforts to relocate more than a million migrants to Myanmar will continue.
Haque said the refugees on the island were being treated well and they’ll have the choice of earning money through cattle or poultry rearing and could also participate in handicraft creation.
He said they want them to add to the economy, but the overall objective is their resettlement to Myanmar.
“They will be checked by our doctors when they arrive today. They will be given food and accommodation properly,” he said.
Many human rights and advocacy organizations claim that some migrants have been pressured to go to the island.
But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s officials have frequently said that the refugees relocated spontaneously.
Just 20 years ago, it surfaced and was not previously inhabited. It was frequently flooded by monsoon rains, but now the Bangladesh navy has constructed flood prevention embankments, homes, hospitals, and mosques at an expense of more than $112m.
The facilities on the island are planned to host 100,000 refugees, just a fraction of a million Rohingya who has fled waves of violent oppression in their native Myanmar. They are now living in a chaotic environment, squalid Cox’s Bazar refugee camps.
Officials state that, based on their desire, the refugees were chosen for resettlement and that no coercion was applied.
However, since it was first suggested in 2015, international aid organizations have resisted the relocation. They are expressing concern that a major storm could overpower the island and risk thousands of lives.
The United Nations expressed concern about allowing refugees to make a “free and informed decision” about whether to move. The administration has also been advised by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to suspend the initiative.