Tuesday, 19 October, 2021

Rohingyas overjoyed at UN arrival in Bhasan Char

Rohingyas overjoyed at UN arrival in Bhasan Char

The Rohingyas in Bhasan Char have welcomed the decision of the United Nations (UN) to engage there in providing humanitarian support.

On Sunday, they brought out a procession expressing their joy over the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Bangladesh government and the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

They were seen joining the joyous procession peacefully holding placards that read "Welcome UN", "Welcome UNHCR", "Thank You UN," "We Are Happy at Bhasan Char 2021."

Head Rohingya leaders led the procession from 2:30pm to 3pm joined by over a thousand Rohingyas, said a source at Bhasan Char.

The procession that began from Shelter 9 ended at Rohingya Bazar, going through Hospital Road.

Bangladesh and the UN signed the formal document Saturday, ending a long wait for a much-sought UN engagement at Bhasan Char on the humanitarian front to support the Rohingyas there.

Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief Md Mohsin and Bangladesh Representative of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, Johannes van der Klaauw, signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the Secretariat.

State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr M Enamur Rahman who witnessed the signing ceremony as the chief guest said around 80,000 Rohingyas will be relocated to Bhasan Char from Cox’s Bazar camps within the next three months.

The numerous challenges associated with the temporary hosting of persecuted Rohingyas from Myanmar have compelled the Bangladesh government to plan the relocation of 1 lakh Rohingyas to Bhashan Char, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

Nearly 20,000 Rohingyas moved to Bhasan Char since December last year in several groups.

Around 1,642 Rohingyas were relocated to Bhashan Char on December 4 last year while the second batch, comprising 1,804 Rohingyas, had been transferred from Cox's Bazar to the island on December 29 last year.

Bhasan Char, a temporary shelter for Rohingyas until repatriation, remained unhurt with no casualty to personnel and livestock during recent cyclones, officials said.

The MoU – signed by UNHCR on behalf of UN agencies working on the Rohingya response in Bangladesh – establishes a common protection and policy framework for the Rohingya humanitarian response on the island.

The MoU is a further expression of the government and people of Bangladesh’s generosity and support towards the Rohingya population until they can return safely and sustainably to Myanmar.

It is also a reconfirmation of the UN's commitment to continue supporting Bangladesh in leading the humanitarian programme for almost 1.1 million Rohingya refugees in the country, said the UNHCR.

The agreement relating to Bhasan Char allows close cooperation between the government and the UN on services and activities to the benefit of the increasing numbers of Rohingya refugees living on the island, according to the UN refugee agency.

Key Areas

These 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 better prepare them for sustainable return to Myanmar in the future.

The UN response will build upon and complement the humanitarian assistance so far provided by Bangladeshi NGOs on the island.

Before signing the MoU, the UN has held discussions with the Rohingya refugee community in Cox’s Bazar, as well as those already on the island, including during the UN visit to Bhasan Char in March 2021, to better understand their needs and views.

These discussions, as well as those with government counterparts and Bangladeshi NGOs working on the island, are expected to continue regularly and further inform any humanitarian and protection responses on Bhasan Char.

The UN encouraged the international community to increase its generous support to the humanitarian response in Bangladesh, recognising that the Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Response in Cox’s Bazar is currently less than half-funded for this year.

Officials at the MoFA said it should be remembered that Rohingyas are Myanmar nationals and Bhasan Char and Cox's Bazar camps are temporary arrangements. "Bangladesh has temporarily been hosting them purely as a humanitarian gesture."

"Rohingyas want to return to their homeland, Myanmar, and all need to work constructively to that end," a MoFA official said.