Second batch of 1,000 Rohingya refugees will be moved to Bhasan Char Island in the Bay of Bengal in the next few days, said two government officials on Sunday.
The initiative of moving the second batch of Rohingyas to the island has taken after the government relocated more than 1,600 early this month.
“They will be moved to Chittagong first and then to Bhasan Char, depending on the high tide,” one of the officials said wishing anonymity.
Mohammed Shamsud Douza, the deputy government official in charge of refugees, said the relocation was voluntary. “They will not be sent against their will.”
The United Nations has said it has not been allowed to carry out a technical and safety assessment of Bhasan Char, a flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal, and was not involved in the transfer of refugees there.
The government says it is transferring only people who are willing to go and the move will ease chronic overcrowding in camps that are home to more than 1 million Rohingya.
But refugees and humanitarian workers say some of the Rohingya have been coerced into going to the island, which emerged from the sea 20 years ago.
Foreign Minister Abdul Momen earlier this month said the United Nations should first assess and verify how conducive the environment in Myanmar’s Rakhine state was for repatriating the refugees, before carrying out an assessment of Bhasan Char.
Several attempts to begin repatriation of Rohingya to Myanmar have failed after refugees said they were too fearful of further violence to return.