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Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh set off for remote island despite outcry

Rohingya Muslim refugees board a Bangladesh Navy ship to be transported to the island of Bhashan Char, in Chittagong, Bangladesh, on December 4, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Bangladesh naval vessels carried some 1,600 Rohingya refugees towards a remote island in the Bay of Bengal on Friday (December 4) despite complaints by refugees and humanitarian groups that some were being coerced.

Bangladesh says it is only moving refugees who are willing to go to Bhasan Char and it will ease chronic overcrowding in camps that are home to more than 1 million Rohingya, members of a Muslim minority who have fled neighboring Myanmar. But refugees and humanitarian workers say some of the Rohingya had been coerced into going to Bhasan Char, a flood-prone island that emerged from the sea 20 years ago.

A naval official said the Rohingya were aboard seven boats, with two more carrying supplies, that set out from the southern port of Chittagong. Refugees were packed across the decks of the naval vessels on plastic chairs. Some brought umbrellas to shelter from the sun on a journey that takes several hours.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar in 2017 following a military-led crackdown that the United Nations said was executed with genocidal intent.

(Source: Reuters)

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