Bangladesh sends second group of Rohingya to an isolated island



Officials in Bangladesh sent a second group of Rohingya refugees to an isolated island in the Bay of Bengal on Monday despite calls by human rights groups for a halt to the process.

"More than 30 buses carrying about 1,500 refugees left their camps in Cox's Bazar district on the way to the island," a government official involved with the process said.

The Prime Minister's Office said in a statement that "more than 1,500 Rohingya refugees left Cox's Bazar voluntarily under government management."


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Authorities say the refugees were selected for relocation based on their willingness, and that no pressure was applied on them. But several human rights and activist groups say some refugees have been forced to go to the island, located 21 miles (34 kilometres) from the mainland.

Authorities sent the first group of 1,642 Rohingya to the island on December 4, despite calls for a halt by human rights groups.

International aid agencies and the United Nations have opposed the relocation since it was first proposed in 2015, expressing fear that a big storm could overwhelm the island and endanger thousands of lives.

The United Nations also voiced concern that refugees be allowed to make a free and informed decision about whether to relocate. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have urged the government to cancel the plan. (PTI)