Bangladesh relocates Rohingyas DPs to controversial island:

Dhaka : Dozens of Rohingyas refugees stranded at sea for weeks have been relocated to a controversial flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh officials said on Sunday.

Bangladesh last year constructed facilities for 100,000 people on Bhashan Char, a muddy silt islet in the cyclone prone coastal belt, saying they needed to take pressure off crowded border camps that are home to almost one million Rohingya.

The 28 Rohingya were taken into to the island late on Saturday instead of the camps as authorities were afraid they might be infected with coronavirus, Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen said.

''Most likely they will stay there until they return to Myanmar.'' They are the first group of Rohingya to be sent to the island, local government administrator Tanmoy Das said, adding they were being looked after by personal who had build the facilities.

Officials said the group - including 15 women and five children - were detained after coming ashore on Saturday from one of the two boats while trying to reach Malaysia.

Some 250 other refugees who also left the boat in six or seven dinghies have not been found, he added.

Bangladesh had refused to let the two trawlers carrying about 500 people land on its territory despite UN calls allow them as a powerful storm bears down in the region.

So far, no coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the sprawling camps in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar that house Rohingya who fled a 2017 military carckdown in neighboring Myanmar.

The plan to move the Rohingyas to Bhashan Char has been staunchly opposed by the Rohingya community.

Human Rights Watch South Asia chief Meenakshi Ganguly said the relocation would place the refugees ''at further risk after the suffering they have already endured''.

In mid-April 396 starving refugees were rescued from a trawler stranded in the Bay of Bengal for more than two months. At least 60 people died on the boat..

The survivors were moved to transit centres near the border camps where they were quarantined.

Thousands of Rohingyas try each year to reach other countries, making the perilous journey on crowded, rickety boats. [AFP] 


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