• Wednesday, May 12, 2021
  • Last Update : 03:53 am

Foreign envoys to visit Bhashan Char on April 3

  • Published at 06:29 pm April 1st, 2021
Bhashan Char
File Photo of Bhashan Char: Courtesy

The resident diplomatic envoys will meet with relocated Rohingyas, authorities, and others living and working at the island

Envoys representing Australia, Canada, France, France, Netherlands, UK, US, and the EU will visit Bhashan Char on April 3 to see the facilities in place for Rohingyas.

The ambassadors and the high commissioners of the diplomatic missions were invited to participate in a government-led visit to Bhashan Char.

This visit by resident diplomatic envoys follows the UN team’s first visit to Bhashan Char that took place from March 17 – 20.

During this first visit to Bhashan Char by some of the heads of mission whose countries are contributing to the Rohingya response, participants will have an opportunity to see some of the facilities and services on the island.

They will have a chance to meet with relocated Rohingyas, authorities, and others living and working there.

Covid-19 protocols will be followed per the regulations and guidelines of the Bangladesh government, said a joint media release on Thursday.

Envoys look forward to continuing the dialogue with the Government of Bangladesh on its Bhashan Char project, as well as with the UN and other relevant partners following the visit.

Further conversations are needed, especially between the Bangladesh government and UN to discuss the policy and technical issues in detail, it said.

The government has planned to relocate 1 lakh Rohingyas to Bhashan Char to decongest the overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar that have temporarily been accommodating nearly a million 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, beautiful lake, and proper infrastructure and enhanced facilities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

These include an uninterrupted supply of electricity and water, agricultural plots, cyclone shelters, two hospitals, four community clinics, mosques, warehouses, telecommunication services, police station, 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 a 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.

Contrary to the apprehension of some quarters about the feasibility of the island, Bhashan Char stood firm against the massive storm, said

Despite the heightened tidal wave, all the 1,440 houses and 120 shelter stations on the island remained unharmed, the statement said.

The island is connected with the mainland through waterways.

Facilities for Rohingyas

The Foreign Ministry said the government has ensured an adequate supply of food along with proper sanitation and medical facilities for Rohingyas in Bhashan Char.

Appropriate hospitals with highly-qualified health professionals, adequate Covid-19 testing and treatment facilities are there in place, it said.

In addition to government agencies, around 22 NGOs are already there to extend all possible support to the relocated Rohingyas.

Adequate security has been ensured on the island by deploying police personnel, including policewomen, and the area is fully covered with CCTV cameras.

On the relocation, the government said its position was very clear and transparent from the very beginning that any relocation would be entirely on a voluntary basis.

Accordingly, a good number of Rohingya representatives undertook a “go-and-see” visit to Bhashan Char to see the facilities and make an independent and informed choice, Foreign Ministry said.

Several NGOs and journalists also visited the island.

All of them expressed their high satisfaction at the available facilities in Bhashan Char, the ministry said, adding, more importantly, the relocation was preceded by adequate preparations and consultations held with different stakeholders, said.

The Foreign Ministry said the skill development and livelihood opportunity that the Rohingyas would be able to avail in Bhashan Char would prepare them for their reintegration in the Myanmar society on return.

The types of economic activities such as fishing, agriculture, goat rearing, etc that they used to pursue in Rakhine state are available in Bhashan Char.

Repatriation attempts failed twice in November 2018 and August 2019 amid Rohingyas' lack of trust in the Myanmar government.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017.

On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.

Bangladesh thinks Rohingyas will "jeopardize regional and international security" if the 1.1 million people are left unattended and not allowed to return to their homeland.

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