DHAKA: A group of more than 1,700 Rohingya Muslim refugees set sail for a remote island in the Bay of Bengal with more readying to go on Saturday, a Bangladesh navy official said, despite concerns about the risk of storms and floods lashing the site.
They are the newest addition to the roughly 3,500 Rohingya refugees from neighboring Myanmar that Bangladesh has sent to the island of Bhasan Char since early December, from border camps where a million live in ramshackle huts.
“Today we are expecting 1,700-plus people to arrive here,” Commodore Abdullah Al Mamun Chowdhury, the officer in charge of the island, told Reuters by telephone on Friday.
More Rohingya who had volunteered to shift to the island were being transferred to the nearest port city of Chittagong from the camps, he added.
“Tomorrow they will be moved to Bhasan Char. All together we are expecting 3,000-plus people,” Chowdhury said.
The island, which emerged from the sea just two decades ago, is several hours’ journey away from the southern port.
The Rohingya, a minority group who fled violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, are not allowed to move off the island without permission from the government.