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Rohingya must have choice on going to Bangladesh island: U.N. refugee agency

GENEVA (Reuters) - Rohingya refugees must be able to make free and informed decisions about relocating to Bangladesh’s Bhashan Char island, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday as naval vessels began carrying some 1,600 towards the remote site.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called on Bangladesh to uphold its commitment that relocation of Rohingya to the island will be voluntary, spokesman Babar Baloch told a U.N. briefing in Geneva.

UNHCR stood ready to evaluate conditions on the island to ensure that it is a “safe and sustainable place for refugees to live”, if permitted by the government, he said.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Michael Shields