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Bangladesh relocates 1,600 Rohingyas to isolated island for 'better abode'

Bangladesh relocates 1,600 Rohingyas to isolated island for better abode
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Dhaka: Bangladesh on Friday relocated the first batch of 1,600 Rohingyas to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal for a "better abode" amid reservation from rights groups fearing the place's vulnerability to tropical cyclones and climate change.

Rohingyas, who are Myanmar's ethnic minority Muslim community, fled their homeland to evade a ruthless military clampdown since August 25, 2017 and after initial reluctance Bangladesh offered them the refuge on humanitarian grounds.

The Rohingyas onboard six navy and one military ship reached the Bhashan Char (island) this afternoon, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Shah Rezwan Hayat told the media.

A batch of 1,600 Rohingyas were the first group of people who agreed to move to a better abode , while 19 more ships were kept ready to ferry fellow refugees to the island in the next few days.

Officials earlier said that Bangladesh spent USD 350 million in the recent past to build the facilities to accommodate 100,000 refugees of over 1.1 million Rohingyas living in crammed makeshift camps in southeastern Cox's Bazar, which borders their homeland in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

Aid agencies and rights groups, however, expressed their reservation against the relocation campaign fearing the vulnerability of the island to tropical cyclones and climate change. Many Rohingyas were reportedly unwilling to move to an isolated place severing ties with relatives and neighbours.

But the government said embankments and other infrastructures would protect the island and only those who expressed their willingness to be moved after Rohingya representatives visited the place were being relocated there.

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