The first batch of Rohingyas from Ukhiya and Teknaf in Cox's Bazar is finally going to Bhasan Char voluntarily.
Ten buses carrying around 300 refugees reached the port city till filing of the report on Thursday at 8pm while over 300 others were on the way.
The first convoy was kept on the BAF Shaheen College ground while the second would stay at the Navy jetty ghat-15 in Patenga.
The Rohingyas are expected to leave Chattogram for Bhasan Char on Friday morning by Bangladesh Navy ships.
Around 10,000 Rohingyas will be relocated to the island in the first batch, sources said.
Earlier, local administration brought them to the transit point on the Ukhiya Degree College premises on Wednesday night, according to locals. Then, they left Cox's Bazar on Thursday at noon by around two dozen buses, which were escorted by police and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) members for security.
A temporary transit point has been set up at the Ukhiya college ground to shift the Rohingyas from 34 camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf and other temporary transit points were built at BAF Shaheen College and the Navy jetty ghat-5 in Chattogram.
Several hundred of Rohingyas arrived at the transit point in Ukhiya after Wednesday evening, while the majority came on Thursday morning, said several leaders of Rohingya camps.
Although local administration is not saying anything about it, Lt Colonel Ashik Billah, director at RAB's media wing, told The Business Standard that teams from RAB and its helicopter wing are in-charge of the security of the fleet.
"On Thursday, there are plans of relocating around 2,000-3,000 Rohingyas. The relocation process will continue for some days," he said.
Around 14 naval ships had been kept ready to take the Rohingyas from Cox's Bazar to Chattogram and from there to Bhasan Char since Thursday morning.
In the first two months, they will be provided with cooked food, according to sources.
In the meantime, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has said the government is not taking any Rohingya to Bhasan Char forcibly, but they are going there voluntarily.
"We are not taking any Rohingya to Bhasan Char forcibly. We are taking those who are willing to go. They are going to Bhasan Char voluntarily," he told reporters.
Earlier, representatives of 22 NGOs visited Bhasan Char and expressed their satisfaction over the government's arrangements there.
They assured cooperation in taking the Rohingyas to Bhasan Char. Some of the NGOs have also started working there.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has called on the government to ensure that Rohingyas can take their decision independently after knowing all the information.
It said in a statement on Wednesday that the UN had no involvement in the government's finalised plan to relocate the Rohingyas to Bhasan Char.
The organisation did not have enough information about the overall migration process, it said.
The statement also said the Rohingyas relocated to Bhasan Char should be provided with education, health care and livelihood security as well as freedom of movement from the island to the mainland.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and Fortify Group urged Bangladesh government to halt the relocation process claiming the island, which emerged from the sea 20 years ago and has never been inhabited, is flood-prone and vulnerable to frequent cyclones.
Besides, the United Nations has also emphasised that refugees who choose to move to Bhasan Char should have basic rights and services on the island, which would include effective freedom of movement to and from the mainland, as well as access to education, health care, and livelihood opportunities.
More than 7,30,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar in 2017 following a military-led crackdown that the UN has said was executed with genocidal intent. Myanmar denies it carried out genocide and says its forces were taking aim at Rohingya rebels who attacked police posts. Bangladesh is hosting over 11 lakh Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar camps in a very congested way. Some 1,00,000 Rohingyas will be shifted to Bhasan Char gradually.
Bhasan Char is well-equipped with modern facilities including- schools, mosques, community clinics, mobile networks, and internet – to provide shelter for one lakh Rohingya people.
Four layers of a protection system have been set up to save the young island, which emerged in the Bay of Bengal, around 39 kilometres from Noakhali, in an estuary of the River Meghna in 2006 from natural disasters, including cyclones.