Based on the preliminary findings of the visit from March 17-20, the UN clearly recognizes the prevailing humanitarian and protection needs of the Rohingya already relocated to the island
The United Nations has proposed further talks with the government about its future operational engagements with respect to Bhashan Char island.
A UN team visited the island for the first time from March 17 to 20.
"Based on the preliminary findings of this visit, the UN clearly recognizes the prevailing humanitarian and protection needs of the Rohingya refugees already relocated to Bhasan Char," Charlie Goodlake, a UNHCR spokesperson in Dhaka, told Dhaka Tribune on Friday evening.
"The UN has therefore proposed further discussions with the government regarding its future operational engagement on Bhasan Char, including on the policies that govern the life and wellbeing of Rohingya refugees on the island," he said.
"The UN team recommends to the government that any future relocations are undertaken in a gradual and phased manner, which would help to ensure that the governance structure, facilities and services available on Bhasan Char are commensurate to the needs of Rohingya refugees living there," he added.
During the visit, the spokesperson said that the UN team looked at the current situation and facilities on Bhasan Char and the feasibility of establishing humanitarian operations there.
He said: "The UN team observed the services currently available on Bhasan Char. While currently limited in scale and scope, a number of Rohingya refugees were found to be engaged in livelihood, skills training, and informal education activities on the island."
To ensure the wellbeing and protection of Rohingya refugees, the UN recommends the strengthening of programmes, particularly for children, women, elderly, and other groups with specific needs and vulnerabilities, as well as education and skills development, and livelihood opportunities."
Goodlake further said: "The UN team recognizes the extensive investments made by the Government in Bhasan Char, including the facilities and infrastructure and other offshore coastal protection measures."
"At the same time, the UN team believes it is critical that the ongoing extension of the embankment is completed as early as possible and to full specification which, when complete, would reduce the risk of storm surges and flooding on the island," he said.
"To further mitigate risks, the UN believes it would be critical to also put in place an emergency management plan in the case of severe weather events, including the pre-positioning of essential supplies and goods on the island," he added.
According to the government’s plans, the island has a capacity for 100,000 Rohingya refugees, based on the currently available infrastructure and space.