Rohingyas in Bhasan Char want to return to Rakhine

10 foreign envoys visit island facilities  

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 00:48, Apr 04,2021


Ambassadors and high commissioners of 10 foreign missions in Dhaka on Saturday visited Bhasan Char and talked to Rohingya people who had been relocated there from camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Male and female Rohingyas of various age groups participated in the exchanges with foreign envoys at the island in Noakhali.

Most of the Rohingya representatives sought support of the international community for going back to their home in Rakhine of Myanmar.

Some of them also emphasised the need of education of their children.

The foreign mission chiefs also observed facilities in the island and visited project sites during the tour.

The chiefs of the missions of Australia, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America travelled to the island at the invitation of the Bangladesh government.

The visit was organised as the part of the government’s engagement with the international community, including the United Nations, on the relocation of Rohingyas from Cox’s Bazar to Bhashan Char, the foreign ministry said in a press release.

The objective of the visit was to provide the envoys with an opportunity to witness the development and humanitarian projects undertaken by the government in the island, it said.

During the tour, the group had the chance to visit different infrastructures, including embankments, buildings and shelters, and other facilities and amenities available on the island.

The group visited several capacity-building projects such as sewing and handicrafts making, the skills that the Rohingyas would be able to utilise on their return to Myanmar, said the release.

The ambassadors freely interacted with the Rohingya representatives and shared their thoughts and hopes.

The Rohingya representatives said that they came to the island voluntarily with expressing their willingness due to security and safety concerns of their families in the camps in Cox’s Bazar.

They conveyed to the envoys their satisfaction over the existing facilities in Bhashan Char, which they consider safe, secured and crime-free compared to the congested camps in Cox’s Bazar, said the release.

Some Rohingyas underscored the need for expanding learning facilities for children and providing them opportunities for farming and fishing which would help in keeping them active.

The ambassadors spent some time with Rohingya children in an informal learning centre.

Foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen, disaster management and relief secretary Md Mohsin, foreign ministry secretary Md Khurshed Alam, refugee relief and repatriation commissioner Shah Rezwan Hayat and other senior government officials accompanied the foreign ambassadors in the trip.

The government has so far relocated about 18,334 Rohingyas to Bhasan Char from camps in Cox’s Bazar till Saturday.

The government invested more than Tk 3,100 crore from own funds to develop the 13,000-acre island with all amenities and facilities of supply of electricity and water, agricultural plots, cyclone shelters, two hospitals, four community clinics, mosques, warehouses, telecommunication services, police station, recreation and learning centres and playgrounds.

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

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

Not a single Rohingya has gone back to their home in Rakhine yet as the Myanmar government has stalled the repatriation process resorting to various means.

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