The agreement will cover the key areas of protection, education, skills training, livelihoods, and health
It is extremely encouraging to see that, after much delay and deliberation, the government of Bangladesh and the United Nations have finally signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to facilitate UN engagement at Bhashan Char on the humanitarian front to support the Rohingya population there.
The agreement will cover the key areas of protection, education, skills training, livelihoods, and health, which will help support the refugees to lead decent lives on the island and should help quell doubts about Bangladesh’s immediate plan to relocate over 80,000 more of the Rohingya population living in the camps to Bhashan Char by the end of February next year.
Furthermore, there is hope that, with the UN now officially playing a bigger and more significant role on the island, the Rohingya will be more comfortable and be able to voice any concerns they may have with this relocation, for they have suffered enough, and while they may be refugees, they deserve to lead their lives with dignity and respect.
The squalid living conditions of the refugee camps were never going to be the appropriate long-term accommodation for the Rohingya. However, it must be stated that, while Bhashan Char appears to be a far better destination for the Rohingya, in terms of comfort, safety, and overall conditions, it is crucial that Bangladesh and the rest of the international community not lose sight of the end goal, which is to repatriate the Rohingya back to Myanmar.
Bhashan Char, and the camps at Cox’s Bazar, for all the effort and money spent behind it for the benefit of the Rohingya, remain nothing but temporary arrangements. Yes, it is good that the UN have come on board to help the Rohingya in Bhashan Char, but ultimately, the Rohingya are citizens of Myanmar, and that is where they belong.