• Wednesday, Aug 04, 2021
  • Last Update : 03:15 pm

Rohingya relocation to Bhashan Char: UN proposes further discussions with govt before engaging

  • Published at 02:03 pm May 30th, 2021
bhashan char
File photo of Bhashan char AFP

Two senior executives of UNHCR arrived in the capital on Sunday and will visit Bhashan Char on Monday

The United Nations has proposed further discussions with the government of Bangladesh before operationally engaging with Bhashan Char, where nearly 18,000 Rohingyas have already been relocated from the camps in Cox’s Bazar.

The focus of the proposed UN discussions will be the policies governing life and wellbeing of the Rohingyas on the island in Noakhali district.

Bhashan Char, an island on the Bay of Bengal, has been developed by the Bangladesh Navy at a cost of about Tk3,100 crore to relocate little over 100,000 Rohingyas from the congested camps in Cox’s Bazar.

The UN has not so far been on board with respect to the relocation. But, a UN team after its maiden visit to the island gave a positive report, leading the government to hope that the global body would be operationally engaged.

According to sources concerned at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UN engagements with Bhashan Char will begin within a couple of months.

Also Read- Covid-19: Teknaf, five Rohingya camps put under lockdown

Meanwhile, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Operations Raouf Mazou and UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Gillian Triggs arrived in the capital on Sunday on a four-day visit. While in Bangladesh, the duo will make a trip to Bhashan Char which is described by the Foreign Ministry officials as positive.

“Based on the preliminary findings of the first UN visit to Bhasan Char in late March, the UN clearly recognizes the prevailing humanitarian and protection needs of the Rohingya refugees already relocated to Bhasan Char,” Louise Donovan, communications officer of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Bangladesh, told Dhaka Tribune on Sunday.

“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,” she said without specifying any timeframe.

Two senior UNHCR officials to visit Bhashan Char on Monday

UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Operations Raouf Mazou and UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Gillian Triggs will make a trip to Bhashan Char on Monday.

Also Read - UNGA president appreciates Bhashan Char arrangements for Rohingyas

About their visit to the island, Louise Denovan of UNHCR Bangladesh told this correspondent, “During this visit, the Government will facilitate a visit to Bhasan Char tomorrow (Monday), while the two Assistant High Commissioners will then visit the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar before returning to Dhaka.”

The visit of the two senior officials to Bhashan Char is the first one by any delegation from the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva.

The Foreign Ministry officials see the visit as significant because their visit is taking place following the tour of a UN team in March that gave a positive response about the island.

While in Bangladesh, the UNHCR senior executives will hold talks with the people concerned about the protracted Rohingya crisis.

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