By Dhaka Tribune

Government has a plan to begin relocating 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhashan Char this year from Cox’s Bazar camps

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Sunday said there is pressure on the government from international NGOs, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), against Bhashan Char relocation even though some Rohingyas are willing to go there to enjoy wonderful facilities built for them.

“But there’s pressure on us. UNHCR and other INGOs want to go for examination before relocation [of Rohingyas to Bhashan Char],” he told reporters.

Dr Momen said Bhashan Char is a very beautiful place and it should have been a resort. “It would be a wonderful resort, such a beautiful place. I would have made it a resort had I been in charge of it.”

The foreign minister said the government decided to relocate 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhashan Char to avoid the risk of deaths due to landslides in Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps.

Meanwhile, facilities were developed there so that Rohingyas can engage in economic activities similar to what they used to do in Myanmar. “There are many who are willing to go”

Responding to a question, Dr Momen said the government wants to relocate Rohingyas there gradually.

European Union (EU) Ambassador to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink recently sought visits by UN technical and humanitarian protection teams in Bhashan Char though Rohingya leaders recently expressed satisfaction over the situation there.

“While the first recent ‘go-and-see’ visit was a welcome step, it would also be important that the proposed UN technical and protection assessments are also able to proceed, as well as the separate humanitarian and protection visits to assess the situation for the 306 refugees already relocated there,” she said.

The government has a plan to begin relocating 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhashan Char this year from Cox’s Bazar camps.

Representatives of the international community in Bangladesh, including ambassadors of the United States and the European Union, the British high commissioner, the head of humanitarian aid of the Canadian high commission, the country director of the World Bank, and the United Nations resident coordinator visited Cox’s Bazar and the Rohingya camps recently.

The delegation also spoke to government officials about the Bhashan Char project.

In all their discussions, the members of the delegation assured the authorities of their unwavering commitment to support the Rohingya refugee response and affected Bangladeshis communities.

“We’ve been with Bangladesh since the early days of this crisis and will continue to scale up development assistance to Cox’s Bazar, having already provided more than half a billion dollars in grants. This crisis can’t and won’t be forgotten,” said World Bank Country Director Mercy Tembon.

The delegation commended Bangladesh’s generosity in hosting the Rohingya population and agreed that returns must be voluntary, safe, and dignified.

The delegation reiterated that the solution to this crisis lies in Myanmar and that is required for the root causes of the crisis to be addressed.

They highlighted that holding perpetrators of the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people in Rakhine State to account would contribute to giving the refugees the confidence to return home.

US Ambassador Earl Miller said the Rohingya crisis remains an important priority for the United States just as it is for Bangladesh and other international partners, and even more so in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.