Envoys of several countries, including the US, UK, Canada, Australia and the EU visit Bhashan Char
The Rohingyas, now living in Bhasan Char, on Saturday 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 Bhasan Char, which they considered safe, secured crime-free compared to the congested camps in Cox’s Bazar.
The Rohingyas thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Government of Bangladesh for the exemplary humanitarian support that have been extended to them 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 Bhasan Char on Saturday.
Some Rohingyas underscored the need to expand learning facilities for children and provide them opportunities for farming and fishing which would help in keeping them active.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organised the daylong trip to Bhasan Char for the Heads of Missions of 10 Embassies/delegation - Turkey, EU, USA, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands.
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, Disaster Management and Relief Secretary Md. Mohsin, Secretary Maritime Affairs Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Rear Admiral (Retd.) Md. Khurshed Alam, RRRC Shah Rezwan Hayat and other senior officials of the Government accompanied the team.
The visit was organized as the part of the Government’s engagement with the International Community including the United Nations on the relocation of Rohingyas from Cox's Bazar to Bhashan Char.
The objective of the visit was to provide the Ambassadors with an opportunity to witness the massive development and humanitarian projects undertaken by the Government of Bangladesh at Bhashan Char.
During the tour, the group had the chance to visit different infrastructures including embankments, buildings, shelters, other facilities and amenities available on the island.
The group visited several capacity-building projects such as sewing, handicrafts making etc, the skills that the Rohingyas would be able to utilize on their return to Myanmar.
The Ambassadors freely interacted with the Rohingya representatives and shared their thoughts and hopes.
The group of Ambassadors spent some time with the Rohingya children in an informal learning center.
This was the first ever visit to Bhashan Char by foreign Heads of Missions.
The trip was preceded by a UN team’s visit from 17-20 March 2021.
Earlier a team, led by the Assistant Secretary General of the OIC went to Bhashan Char.
The Rohingya relocation, which started from December 4 last year, is in alignment with the GOB’s overall efforts towards repatriation.
So far 18,334 Rohingyas have been relocated to Bhasan Char, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Government has a plan to relocate, in phases, 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhashan Char.
There might be a joint media release to be issued on Sunday or Monday based on what the diplomats have seen, a diplomatic source told UNB.
The diplomats returned to Dhaka after 5pm on Saturday.
Covid-19 protocols were followed in accordance with the regulations and guidelines of the Government of Bangladesh during the visit.
The envoys look forward to continuing the dialogue with the Government of Bangladesh on its Bhasan Char project, as well as with the UN and other relevant partners following the visit.
They think further conversations are needed, especially between the Government of Bangladesh and UN to discuss the policy and technical issues in detail.
The government has planned to relocate 1 lakh Rohingyas to Bhasan Char to decongest the overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar that have temporarily been accommodating nearly a million of Rohingyas with many more thousands born each year.
The government said the deteriorating security situation due to the prolonged stay of these frustrated people in Cox’s Bazar also compelled the government of Bangladesh to come up with a contingency plan and develop Bhashan Char from its own budgetary allocation.
Accordingly, the government invested more than $350 million to develop the island.
The 13,000 acre island has all modern amenities, year-round freshwater, a beautiful lake and proper infrastructure, and enhanced facilities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed.
These include uninterrupted supply of electricity and water, agricultural plots, cyclone shelters, two hospitals, four community clinics, mosques, warehouses, telecommunication services, police stations, recreation and learning centers, playgrounds, etc.
In contrast to the makeshift structures of the camps in Cox’s Bazar, the accommodation in Bhashan Char is strongly built with concrete foundation which can withstand natural disasters such as cyclones and tidal waves, said the government.
Super Cyclone Amphan proved the strength of the structures of Bhashan Char, it said.