The UN Urges Dhaka to Relocate Rohingya Refugees

Following up on a study of a remote island facility set up by Bangladesh for Rohingya refugees, the UN has urged Dhaka to transfer the refugees in a \”phased\” manner.

However, the recommendation is quite contrary to what rights activists have said. According to activists, the area is prone to floods and bad weather.

UN Proposes of Doing a Gradual Relocation:

On Saturday, Charlie Goodlake, a UNHCR spokesperson in Dhaka, told Arab News that the UN team has made a proposal. As proposed, the UN team want eh relocation to be \”in a gradual and staggered manner\”. He said the UN intended to have \”further talks\” with Dhaka about the initiative.

Goodlake further stated that “It would help to ensure that the governance structure, facilities and services on the island\”. This will help in meeting the needs of Rohingya refugees living there.

The UN report, released late Friday, came a month after 18 UN experts visited Bhasan Char Island. The visit for the first time on March 17. Following the UN\’s visit, a 10-member delegation of diplomats from the EU, the US, UK and Japan visited the island on 3rd April.  The delegation also includes members from Australia, Canada, and Turkey. The visit was based on assessing the current situation.

After December last year, Bangladesh has relocated 18,500 Rohingya refugees from overcrowded camps. \”Rohingya Island\” is the name of the camps, which are located in Cox\’s Bazar a district to Bhasan Char. It plans to evacuate 100,000 refugees from overcrowded camps to the isolated island. Geographically, the island is 60 kilometres from the mainland and situated in the Bay of Bengal.

Dhaka developed Bhasan Char in 2006 with Himalayan silt and sediment to relieve overcrowding in the Cox\’s Bazar area. More than $360 million was spent on the scheme. Each Bhasan Char house has a toilet for 11 people and five-square-meter concrete rooms with small windows.

International Organization Underline Concerns:

However, the UNHCR expressed worry about the island\’s vulnerability to extreme weather and floods. Consequently, this prompted a UN request for a \”scientific review\” of the site in December 2019.

Several international rights organizations expressed similar fears, urging Bangladesh not to evacuate the Rohingya to Bhasan Char. There were multiple warnings that the island was situated in a cyclone-prone location. Therefore, could be flooded during a high tide.

The UN team acknowledges the Bangladesh government\’s significant investments in Bhasan Char, including \”facilities and roads as well as other offshore coastal defence initiatives,\” according to Goodlake.

He added that the UN is calling for an \”emergency response plan in the event of extreme weather conditions, including the pre-positioning of critical equipment and goods on the island\” to help reduce risks.

According to Goodlake, the UN team recognizes the Bangladesh government\’s substantial investments in Bhasan Char, which include \”facilities and roads as well as other offshore coastal defence initiatives.\”

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr A. K. Abdul Momen said on Friday that the UN\’s new study contained \”very strong and optimistic findings\”. Cox\’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh is home to more than 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims, making it the world\’s largest refugee settlement. The Rohingya are an ethnic and religious minority group who fled repression in Myanmar in 2017 as a result of a military crackdown.


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