UPDATE 1-Bangladesh sends more Rohingya refugees to remote, flood-prone island


UPDATE 1-Bangladesh sends more Rohingya refugees to remote, flood-prone island

* More than 1,700 refugees displaced on Friday

* More to send on Saturday to join around 3500 already there

* UN refugee agency says it was not consulted during the move to the island (add details, quote; paragraphs 8-14)

By Ruma Paul

DHAKA, Jan.29 (Reuters) – A group of more than 1,700 Rohingya Muslim refugees set sail for a remote island in the Bay of Bengal and more are set to leave on Saturday, a Bangladeshi navy official said, despite the concerns about the risk of storms and flooding ravaging the site.

They are the latest addition to the some 3,500 Rohingya refugees from neighboring Myanmar that Bangladesh has sent to Bhasan Char Island since early December, from border camps where one million live in dilapidated huts. we expect more than 1,700 people to arrive here, ”Commodore Abdullah Al Mamun Chowdhury, the officer in charge of the island, told Reuters on Friday by telephone.

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

“Tomorrow they will be transferred to Bhasan Char. All together we are expecting over 3,000 people, ”said Chowdhury.

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

The Rohingya, a minority group that fled violence in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, are not allowed to leave the island without government permission.

Bangladesh says the resettlement is voluntary, but some members of the first group, sent in December, said they were forced.

The government also claims that overcrowding in camps in Cox’s Bazar district is fueling crimes, as efforts to return them to Myanmar fail.

“What options do we have? How long can we live in crowded camps under tarps?” asked Mohammed Ibrahim, 25, en route to the island where some of his relatives have already been displaced.

“This is getting nowhere the way the international community is handling our crisis,” he told Reuters by cell phone.

Bangladesh has also dismissed concerns about flooding on the island, citing the construction of a 12 km (7.5 miles) long and 2 meters (6.5 feet) high section of embankment, in addition housing for 100,000 people, hospitals and cyclone centers. .

He has been criticized for his reluctance to consult with aid agencies, including the UN refugee agency, about the transfers.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says the agency has not been authorized to assess the safety and sustainability of life on the island.

“We look forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with the government regarding its Bhasan Char project, including the technical and protection assessments proposed by the UN,” he said in an email. (Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)


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