Rohingyas in Bhasan Char need int’l support: IFRC

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 17:02, Mar 29,2021


International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Monday appealed to the international communities seeking support to maintain humanitarian services for more than 13,000 Rohingya people relocated to Bhasan Char island from Cox’s Bazar camps in Bangladesh.

This appeal follows an independent visit by representatives from the IFRC and Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRC) to Bhasan Char, according to a press release.

The visit team found that the Government of Bangladesh has made progress on Bhasan Char in terms of the development of infrastructure. However, it also found urgent investment is needed to ensure that women and children are adequately protected, and that food security, health care and schooling is assured both in the short and longer-term.

Furthermore, while evacuation centres are in place to keep people safe from disasters, there remain concerns that the island could be exposed during the upcoming cyclone season and that systems are further strengthened to manage the potential isolation caused by storms.

The IFRC urges the Government of Bangladesh, humanitarian agencies and international donors to do everything possible to keep people displaced from Rakhine State safe and able to live with dignity, wherever they are located, including on Bhasan Char.

BDRC secretary general Feroz Salah Uddin said, ‘After nearly four years living in precarious camps in cramped conditions, many people are relocating to the island of Bhasan Char.’

The BDRV is working with authorities to deliver food packages, hygiene items, sanitation and health services to thousands of people on the island for the coming months, he said.

Sanjeev Kafley, Bangladesh head of IFRC Delegation, said, ‘With the cyclone season fast approaching, people on Bhasan Char could become stranded with a shortage of food when major storms strike, leaving the sea passage impassable, in turn denying the delivery of relief, medicines and other vital supplies.’

Everyone relocating must have access to all of the essentials for a healthy life, including nutritious food, hygiene items such as soap, along with health and medical care. Women and children must be afforded protection from violence and other risks, he said.

People who are now living on Bhasan Char have been through so many hardships and they deserve opportunities for a fulfilling life, with opportunities to start new livelihoods and access to education and other activities, Kafley added.

A total of 8,60,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning on August 25, 2017.

The latest Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to over 1.1 million, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.

Not a single Rohingya has returned to their home in Rakhine as the Myanmar government has almost stalled the repatriation process, resorting to various means, including near discontinuation of clearing of names of the refugees eligible to go back to their homeland and an unwillingness to hold meetings of the bilateral joint working group and the tripartite mechanism led by China.

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