UN lauds Bangladesh govt's initiative for Rohingyas in Bay of Bengal island

The United Nations has lauded the Bangladesh government for its efforts towards mitigating sufferings of the Rohingya refugees particularly through their relocation in Bhasan Char island.

The UN has made these observations on Bhasan Char, but suggested expanding protection, education and livelihood options at the project meant to shelter 100,000 Rohingyas.

It also recommending quick completion of the embankment around the housing facility and having an emergency management plan in the case of severe weather.

The 18-member UN delegation led by Fumiko Kashiwa, assistant representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, visited the island in Noakhali’s Hatiya where some 14,000 Rohingyas were relocated from Cox’s Bazar since December last year.

“Rohingya refugees were generally positive about their experiences so far and appreciated the quality of the shelters and other facilities, the overall security situation, as well as the space available to them,” Charlie Goodlake, a UNHCR spokesperson in Dhaka, told leading Bangladesh English daily The Daily Star.

He said while currently limited in scale and scope, a number of Rohingya refugees were found to be engaged in livelihood, skills training, and informal education activities on the island.

The UNHCR said the UN team recognises the extensive investments made by Bangladesh,

The UN observations come as a significant development, especially as the government has been seeking UN funding for Bhasan Char project, which Bangladesh Navy implemented at the cost of Tk 3,100 crore.

The project has 120 brick-built cluster villages and 120 cyclone shelters, flood protection embankments, facilities for education, farming and fishing, hospitals and playgrounds. Separate buildings for the aid agencies were also constructed there.

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Meanwhile, some 45 NGOs are now providing humanitarian assistance to the refugees on Bhasan Char.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said overall, the UN is positive about Bhasan Char and has made some recommendations.

In an interview with news agency UNB, Momen said the government will demand 10 percent of the fund for Rohingyas from international aid agencies if they do not want to provide assistance to the Rohingyas on Bhasan Char.

“It is not a matter whether the Rohingyas are living in Kutupalong, Cox’s Bazar, Barishal or Bhasan Char. That should not be their headache. Their headache should be providing services to the Rohingyas. They are obligated to provide services wherever they stay.”

Saiful Islam Chowdhury, coordinator for NGO Alliance for Bhasan Char, said education and livelihood programmes have already begun on Bhasan Char and UN engagement will create momentum to these activities. Major aid agencies will also then start their activities, he added.



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