Campaign against Bhasan Char on with distorted info: MoFA

Diplomatic Correspondent

2 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The government of Bangladesh has said a section of international media and civil society organisations (CSOs) have been continuously campaigning against Bhasan Char and the Rohingya relocation with distorted information misrepresenting the facts.

“Such campaign will undermine the magnanimous humanitarian gestures and the sincere efforts of Bangladesh,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said in a press statement on Tuesday noting this with great disappointment.

The statement was issued amid the current visit of a two-member team from the UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva, comprised of the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection and the Assistant High Commissioner for Operations.

“Excessive focus on temporary arrangement and undue criticism will only shift the focus from the permanent solution, which lies in repatriation and reintegration of Rohingyas in Myanmar,” reads the MoFA statement.

“It must be remembered that Rohingyas are Myanmar nationals. Any arrangement for them in Bangladesh -- be it in Cox’s Bazar or in Bhasan Char -- is purely on a temporary basis until they return to their country,” it said.

MoFA said Rohingyas also want to return to their homeland and all, including the UNHCR, need to work constructively to that end. “The UN is expected to assume their responsibility and operate within their mandate taking into account the ground reality and concerns of the host community. The government of Bangladesh, on its part, is ready to address any realistic needs and concerns of Rohingyas,” added the statement.

As part of their protection mandate, the two-member team from the UNHCR Headquarters, accompanied by senior officials from the MoFA visited Bhasan Char on Monday.

During their tour to the island, a large number of Rohingya gathered together and staged demonstrations. At one point, the crowd got agitated and in the process, some of Rohingyas reportedly got minor injury. Once the delegation left the island, the situation normalised.

The crowd had free and frank interactions with the AHCs and vented out their frustration and concerns at uncertainty over repatriation.

In absence of any progress in repatriation, they expressed desperation to get out of the present situation and called for considering their relocation to a third country.

Rohingyas demanded UN’s presence in Bhasan Char to ensure facilities such as education, livelihood activities, skills development etc. They also confirmed to the AHCs that their relocation to Bhasan Char was completely on a voluntary basis.

It may be mentioned that in recent times there have been a number of important visits to Bhasan Char, including that of the OIC Assistant Secretary General, the 18-member UN team and most recently a group of Ambassadors.

During all these visits, Rohingyas spontaneously and happily interacted with the visiting guests both in informal and formal settings, the MoFA added.