Bangladesh transfers further 3,000 Rohingya refugees to remote island

Dhaka, Jan 30 (efe-epa).- Bangladeshi authorities on Saturday completed the transfer of over 3,000 Rohingyas refugees to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal in the third phase of relocation from congested camps in Cox’s Bazar in the country’s southeast.

Mohammad Shamsuddoha, Bangladesh’s refugees, relief and repatriation commissioner, told Efe that all refugees scheduled to be relocated in the third phase reached the island safely.

The phase was completed in two days.

“In two days we have transferred 3,244 refugees to Bhasan Char. Among them, 1,454 traveled today. They all reached the island safely, had food and are now resting,” he said.

Shamsuddoha said a Rohingya woman gave birth to a baby in the ship on her way to the island.

“Both the mother and baby are safe. We had discouraged some heavily pregnant women to travel. But they were more interested to go,” he said.

Bangladesh authorities transferred about 3,500 Rohingyas to the island in the first two phases in December.

Officials have defended the measure as crucial to decongesting the overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar.

However, international groups such as Human Rights Watch have urged Dhaka to halt the process due to the conditions on the previously uninhabited island — prone to monsoon floods and cyclones — and the lack of transparency in the process.

Bangladesh first announced in 2017 its plan to relocate 100,000 Rohingyas to the 40-sq km island in the Bay of Bengal, although authorities had put the plan on temporary hold after the United Nations expressed doubts about the project.

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