UN shares positive observation on Bhashan Char
Bangladesh will demand 10% of the funds that the humanitarian agencies raise in the name of Bangladesh and Rohingyas if they do not provide services to 100,000 Rohingyas to be shifted to Bhashan Char gradually, says Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen.
“Yes, they will have to pay because the funds are coming for Rohingyas. We will demand 10% of the fund if they do not want to provide services to Rohingyas in Bhashan Char,” he told UNB in an interview at his residence on Friday.
Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar district and the government has a plan to shift 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhashan Char gradually which has already started.
The foreign minister said it should not be the headache of the humanitarian agencies where Rohingyas are living.
“It is not a matter whether Rohingyas are living in Kutupalong, Cox’s Bazar, Barisal or in Bhashan Char. That should not be their headache. Their headache should be providing services to Rohingyas. They are obligated to give them services wherever they stay,” Dr Momen said.
If the humanitarian agencies do not provide services to Rohingyas, member states will not give funds which will put them in hardship, he said.
The foreign minister said they do not know how the UNHCR and other agencies spend the money though they raise funds in the name of Rohingyas and host communities.
Responding to a question on the technical team’s observation on Bhashan Char, the foreign minister said, “They’ve a very good and positive observation. Concisely, they’ve given a positive observation.”
He said they will hand over a 10-page report based on their observations and they have already submitted a two-page synopsis.
An 18-member UN delegation visited Bhashan Char in March to have a firsthand view of the housing facility for 100,000 Rohingyas.
In their two-page synopsis, the team pointed out three points – education for Rohingya children, increasing heights of the embankments and better communication system.
Dr Momen said Bangladesh has no problem in providing education to Rohingyas but it has to be in Myanmar language.
“Rohingyas will have to go back to Myanmar. So, education in Myanmar curriculum will help Rohingyas integrate in their society easily once they return home,” he said.
About further increasing the heights of the embankments, Dr Momen said they will certainly do it for their own needs.
On communications, the foreign minister said they can go to Bhashan Char through Sandwip as it will take 30 minutes if they follow that route. “There’ll be no problem regarding communications with Bhashan Char.”
He said Bhashan Char is one of the 75 islands in Bangladesh and it is 10 times bigger than St Martin’s Island.
Responding to a question on diplomats’ visit, Dr Momen said they expressed satisfaction seeing the arrangements there with solid structures. “They’ve appreciated the arrangement very much. They liked it.”
“I had a discussion with two diplomats. They’ve liked Bhashan Char,” said the foreign minister.
On April 3, the Rohingyas, now living in Bhashan Char, interacted with the foreign diplomats and expressed their willingness to return to their homeland in Myanmar.
They conveyed their "high satisfaction" over the existing facilities in Bhashan Char, which they considered safe, secure crime-free compared to the congested camps in Cox’s Bazar.
The Rohingyas profusely thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the government of Bangladesh for the exemplary humanitarian support that have been extended to the Rohingyas since the mass exodus.
“I want my children to grow with their own national identity in their own country,” a Rohingya representative was quoted as conveying to the diplomats who visited Bhashan Char.
Some Rohingyas underscored the need for expanding learning facilities for children and providing them with opportunities for farming and fishing which would help keep them active.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized the day-long trip to Bhashan Char for the heads of missions of 10 embassies/delegation -- Turkey, EU, the USA, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands.
The Rohingya relocation to Bhashan Char, which started on December 4 last year, is in alignment with the Bangladesh government’s overall efforts towards repatriation.