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UN conditionally welcomes Rohingya relocation to Bhashan Char

  • Published at 04:36 pm March 25th, 2019
Web_Bhashan Char
File Photo: The photo, collected from project official Atikul Islam’s Facebook page, shows houses built under a project to accommodate Rohingya refugees in Bhashan Char, Noakhali, Bangladesh

No Rohingya to be sent forcibly, government reiterates

The United Nations has welcomed the relocation of Rohingyas from Cox’s Bazar to  Bhashan Char on certain conditions.

Meanwhile, a senior government official involved with Rohingya affairs has categorically said that the no one will be forcibly sent to  Bhashan Char, an uninhabited island in Noakhali being developed by the government for the relocation.

“The government of Bangladesh has said it plans to relocate refugees from Cox’s Bazar to Bhasan Char. The UN appreciates the government’s efforts to seek alternative locations for refugees to settle which could help to decongest the overcrowded settlements in Cox’s Bazar,” said a press release issued by the office of the United Nations in Dhaka.

Also Read- Inside the Bhashan Char plan for Rohingyas

“The UN’s position is to engage constructively with the government on Bhasan Char. We are discussing with the government the critical protection and operational issues that should be considered before any relocations take place, in order to ensure that refugees would be able to live in safe and sustainable living conditions on Bhasan Char,” it said.

- Relocation must be on a voluntary basis

- Clarification about living conditions, basic rights and services for refugees

- Setting up a humanitarian response on  Bhashan Char

- Refugees should have relevant, accurate and timely information on the project

“We are seeking clarification about the modalities of any relocations, the living conditions that would be provided and the basic rights and services that refugees would be able to access if they decided to relocate to  Bhashan Char, as well as issues of governance and access that the UN and partners would have to the island,” it added.

The viability of any refugee relocations to  Bhashan Char and the possibility of establishing a humanitarian response operation on the island would require thorough assessments including technical assessments of the island and careful planning, said the release.

Also Read- What do Rohingyas think about Bhashan Char?

“We are also examining the potential operational implications of setting up a humanitarian response on  Bhashan Char, including the requirements, time frames and costs involved in providing services,” it said.

“The UN considers that any relocation to  Bhashan Char must be on a voluntary basis and that refugees should have relevant, accurate and timely information on the project from the government, so they can make free and informed decisions. The views and concerns of refugees must be heard and addressed as part of the consultative process,” it added.

Also Read- UN draws up plans to ‘facilitate’ Rohingya relocation to Bhashan Char

Asked for comments on the UN position, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Abul Kalam said: “No Rohingya will be relocated by force. The relocation will be voluntary.”

“Rohingyas will only be relocated to Bhashan Char after ensuring their safety, security and wellbeing,” he said.  

“We have discussed with the UN in the past, we are in discussion and we will have further discussion with them in future,” he added.