A total of 1,464 Rohingyas on Saturday left for Bhasan Char in the third phase from camps of Cox's Bazar, as part of the government’s initiative to relocate the ethnic group to the island.
Four ships carrying the Rohingyas left the Patenga Naval jetty around 9:30am, said sources from the public relations department of Chattogram Navy.
On Friday, the Rohingyas who were scheduled to go to Bhashan Char, reached the transit point of Chattogram from the camp in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar. They reached Chattogram in the evening and spent the night at the temporary transit camp in BAF Shaheen College.
Some 1,778 Rohingyas reached Bhashan Char in the third phase relocation process on Friday.
Abdullah Al Mamun, a Navy official, said the Additional Refugee, Relief and Rehabilitation Commission has taken the initiative to relocate the Rohingyas to Bhashan Char, as part of the government’s initiative to shift the 100,000 forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals to the river island.
So far, 5,224 Rohingya have willingly shifted to the island that provides a much better living condition compared to the cramped camps in the coastal district of Cox’s Bazar. On December 4 last year, some 1,642 Rohingyas were transferred to Bhashan Char in the first batch and 1,804 in the second phase on December 29.
Where is Bhasan Char?
Located 34 kilometres from the mainland, the island surfaced 20 years ago and was never inhabited.
Contractors say its infrastructure is like a modern township, with multifamily concrete homes, schools, playgrounds and roads. It also has solar-power facilities, a water supply system and cyclone shelters. The island has all modern amenities and recently a police station was set up there.
Bangladesh spent millions of dollars to develop Bhasan Char and plans to relocate 100,000 Rohingyas there in phases in the face of growing concerns over the extreme congestion in Cox’s Bazar camps and to avert any risk of death due to landslides and other unwarranted incidents.
Who are the Rohingyas?
The Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
Members of the mainly Muslim majority ethnic minority are denied citizenship by Myanmar and many are forced to live in squalid camps in apartheid-like condition. State-sponsored discrimination against the Rohingyas stretches decades back.
Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world, is currently hosting more than 1.1 million Rohingyas. The majority of them came here in August 2017, fleeing persecution in their homeland of Rakhine State in Myanmar.
Bangladesh has been urging the global community to take effective steps to put pressure on Myanmar to create a congenial atmosphere for Rohingya repatriation but there has been little progress so far.