Bangladesh government is planning to relocate 500 displaced Rohingyas from Cox’s Bazar to Bhashanchar in Noakhali next month while the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees demanded that an assessment be made to evaluate the safety and sustainability of life on the island before relocation begins.
Disaster management secretary Md Mohsin told New Age on Thursday that the government decided to relocate the Rohingya while negotiation with UNHCR would continue.
The 500 Rohingyas who expressed interest to relocate to Bhashan Char would likely be taken to the newly-built facility early November by ships from Cox’s Bazar.
The date will be finalised next week after holding a meeting with Bangladesh Navy, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner’s Office and Cox’s Bazar district administration, Mohsin said.
‘A team of Rohingya community leaders visited Bhashan Char last month and expressed satisfaction about the arrangement,’ Mohsin said.
The UN’s World Food Programme representatives agreed to supply food and other humanitarian aid to the relocated Rohingyas at Bhashan Char, Mohsin said.
He said that 1,00,000 Rohingyas would be relocated to Bhashan Char from Cox’s Bazar while Rohingyas living in the temporary shelters that were developed occupying private lands would be relocated to the main camp at Ukhiya.
‘The relocation of the Rohingyas to Bhashan Char will not create any trouble in repatriation process of the displaced Rohingyas to Myanmar,’ Mohsin claimed.
At present 860,000 Rohingya refugees are living in temporary settlements across Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district. Most of them, numbering in 740,000, fled the homes in Myanmar during the most recent displacement crisis in 2017.
The UN’s longstanding position remains the same, it wants a comprehensive technical and protection assessments to evaluate the safety and sustainability of life on Bhasan Char before relocation commences. UN also says that any relocation should be voluntary, according to Mostafa Mohammad Sazzad Hossain, assistant communication officer at the UNHCR Bangladesh.
‘The UN has long been prepared to proceed with this onsite assessment work,’ he writes in response to a New Age query over the relocation of the Rohingya.
The UN has informed the Bangladesh government that it would be prepared to undertake a protection visit to Bhasan Char to meet with the Rohingya refugees transferred to the island and assess their immediate humanitarian and protection situation and specific needs, he adds.
The government in May relocated 309 Rohingyas to Bhashan Char after capturing them in the Bay of Bengal while they tried to escape, UNHCR briefing said.
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