• Saturday, Dec 07, 2019
  • Last Update : 03:41 pm

UN offers to assess Bhashan Char plan

  • Published at 06:46 pm November 30th, 2019
BANGLADESH-bhashanchar-rohingya
File Photo: In this handout aerial photo taken on June 19, 2019 and released on October 21 by Mukta Dinwiddie MacLaren Architects shows buildings intended to accomodate members of the Rohingya refugee community on the silt islet Bhashan Char in the Bay of Bengal AFP

The government has constructed facilities for some 100,000 people on Bhashan Char and says it is ready to shift the refugees from the crowded settlements

A UN envoy on Thursday offered technical expertise to assess arrangements on Bhashan Char where Dhaka plans to shift about 100,000 Rohingya refugees.

Kelly Clements, a deputy high commissioner of the UNHCR, told reporters in Dhaka that the UN wanted to be "engaged" in the proposed refugee relocation, which has been criticized by rights groups.

File photo of a rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

"We have offered and told the government that we'd like to be engaged and understand better their plans. We have offered our technical experts to come... and assess and see what arrangements have been made," she said.

Nearly a million Rohingya, including some 740,000 who fled a 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state, are now living in squalid camps in Cox's Bazar.

The government has constructed facilities for some 100,000 people on Bhashan Char and says it is ready to shift the refugees from the crowded settlements.

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 | Collected

But aid agencies and rights groups have opposed the idea.

The government has recently been erecting barbed-wire fences around the Cox's Bazaar camps, a move that the Human Rights Watch (HRW) compared with building an "open air prison."

Clements said the fencing "is not always the best answer in terms of security."

"Obviously we'll try to see how it can be implemented in a way that doesn't adversely affect the refugee community nor the host," she said.

In a reply to a question on the refugees' chances of repatriation, she said it would be "extremely difficult to set a timeline."