Early in the morning, Monjur Alam seemed quite excited and busy in a video call from Bhasan Char to someone on the other side.
"See, it is a nice place for living. Everything necessary is here. There is no overcrowding. All are nice buildings. Come here," Monjur – a Maji or a community leader – was showing the surroundings of the Rohingyas' new abode in Bhashan Char to his relatives back at Cox's Bazar Balukhali-11 Rohingya refugee camp.
"Those who have come here [on the island] are very fortunate. We are happy to have come here. If you want to feel happy, come here too," the Rohingya leader told them.
While talking to The Business Standard, he said they were encouraging their relatives to come to Bhashan Char – an island under Noakhali's Hatiya upazila located in the Bay of Bengal.
"The place is very nice and seems safe to me. The Bangladesh government did not force us to come here; rather we came here willingly," he said.
Many others were also seen busy informing their fellow Rohingyas and their relatives about their new abode back in the Cox's Bazar camps.
Their relatives too were very much eager to know about the new habitat, they said.
One Rohingya woman, Shamshera Begum said, "I feel comfortable here as we have got a building here to live in. In Cox's Bazar, we lived in a tent made of flimsy bamboo and tarpaulins, and it was vulnerable to storms.
"During the rains, we suffered so much there. But here on the island, we have attached bathrooms and kitchens in our houses."
On Saturday morning, Rohingyas at Bhashan Char were given pulao-chicken-eggs for breakfast. They will be provided with cooked food for the next few days, said authorities concerned.
However, the Rohingyas said they would be able to return to a normal life if they were given gas and stoves for cooking.
The first batch of refugees – comprising 1,642 Rohingyas – was relocated to Bhashan Char on Friday. With much delight, they welcomed a new dawn of their life on the island on Saturday and spent the whole day tidying up their new living places.
Seven ships took them from Chattogram to Bhashan Char, while two ships carried their possessions. Several other Navy boats escorted these vessels.
Bangladesh has been hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in congested Cox's Bazar camps. Some 100,000 Rohingyas will gradually be shifted to Bhashan Char, which has already been well-equipped with modern facilities, including schools, mosques, community clinics, mobile networks and internet, for Rohingyas.
The Bhashan Char Project Director, Commodore Abdullah Al Mamun Chowdhury, said all preparations had been taken to deal with a Covid-19 crisis on the island.
"Covid-19 tests will begin here soon, and isolation centers will also be opened," he said.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and Fortify Group urged the Bangladesh government on Saturday to halt the relocation process, claiming the island that had emerged from the sea 20 years ago and had never been inhabited was flood-prone and vulnerable to frequent cyclones.
Mohammad Shamsuddoza, additional refugee relief and repatriation commissioner (RRRC), said there was enough food stock on the island for three months for the Rohingyas.
More supplies will arrive in phases. All types of facilities have been arranged for them, he added.
Though the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and International NGOs are providing humanitarian support to the Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar, 22 local NGOs have taken up responsibilities to provide food and other support to the Rohingyas in Bhashan Char.
Rohingyas have requested the UNHCR and international NGOs to come to Bhashan Char and begin their programmes.
A Rohingya, Mohammad Ismail, said, "We are refugees. The UNHCR was providing us with support in Cox's Bazar. They should also come here to support us."