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Bangladesh relocates more Rohingya to remote island

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Bangladesh on Friday moved 1,778 more Rohingya refugees to a remote island in the country’s south in the third phase of its relocation drive.

“All ships carrying those Rohingya from the southern port city Chattogram sailed out Friday morning and we have already kept ready the cluster houses on the island in which the newly arrived Rohingya will be settled,” Commodore Abdullah Al Mamun Chowdhury, director of the Rohingya resettlement project on Bhasan Char island, told.

Last December, Bangladesh relocated 3,446 Rohingya refugees to the silty island in the Bay of Bengal around 50 kilometers (31 miles) off Bangladesh’s southwestern coast. The island is prone to natural disasters, posing a high risk to its inhabitants.

Bangladeshi authorities, however, claim that the living arrangements on the island are far better than the crammed camps in Cox’s Bazaar, a district where 1.1 million stateless Rohingya currently live.

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According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women, and children fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency. Many others have been raped and thrown into fires, the report added.

Bangladesh’s refugee commissioner Shah Rezwan Hayat said that a huge number of Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar have volunteered to migrate to the island after hearing of better facilities there.

“We are committed to ensuring the secured life of the Rohingya on the island until their peaceful repatriation to their home, Myanmar’s Rakhine state,” he added.

International organizations including the United Nations have expressed reservations on the relocation on grounds of safety.

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