Rohingya relocation to Bhasan Char may not happen: Foreign minister

Rohingya relocation to Bhasan Char may not happen: Foreign minister

Prothom Alo English Desk |  Mar 27, 2019

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen talks to newsmen at the foreign ministry on Wednesday. Photo: UNBForeign minister AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday said Bangladesh will not relocate Rohingya people to Bashan Char, an island in Noakhali district, if all concerned think that will be a problem for them, reports UNB.

“We thought they’ll (Rohingya) live there better,” he told reporters mentioning that the government has made big arrangements for Rohingya people in Bashan Char.

The foreign minister was talking to reporters after jointly inaugurating ‘Demonstration and Introduction of STP (Set-Top) Boxes for Internet Protocol Television (IPTV)’ in Bangladesh Missions abroad with information minister Hasan Mahmud at the foreign ministry.

Momen said the government had a plan to relocate around 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhashan Char on a voluntary basis in April.

But, he said, they do not know now when it will take place amid various conditions placed by various international organisations. “The Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief is looking into the matter.”

The foreign minister said Bangladesh is hosting around 1.1 to 1.2 million Rohingya people in Cox’s Bazar district.

He said their fear is that there might be landslides during the coming monsoon causing casualties. “That’s why we tried to take 23,000 families or around 100,000 Rohingya people to Bhasan Char.”

On 25 March, the United Nations (UN) appreciated Bangladesh’s efforts to seek alternative locations for Rohingyas but sought clarification about the modalities of potential relocation of Rohingya people to Bhasan Char.

The government of Bangladesh has said it plans to relocate Rohingya people from Cox’s Bazar to Bhasan Char which could help “decongest” the overcrowded settlements in Cox’s Bazar.

Bangladesh is currently hosting over 1.1 million Rohingya people in Cox’s Bazar district and most of them arrived here since 25 August 2017.

“We’re seeking clarification about the modalities of any relocation, the living conditions that would be provided and the basic rights and services that refugees would be able to access if they decided to relocate to Bhasan Char,” said the UN in Bangladesh in a press statement on Monday.

The UN is also seeking clarification on issues of governance and access that the UN and partners would have to the island.

The UN’s position is to “engage constructively” with the government of Bangladesh on Bhasan Char.

“We’re discussing with the government the critical protection and operational issues that should be considered before any relocations take place in order to ensure that refugees would be able to live in safe and sustainable living conditions on Bhasan Char,” the statement reads.

The UN said the viability of any Rohingyas relocations to Bhasan Char and the possibility of establishing a humanitarian response operation on the island would require thorough assessments. including technical assessments of the island and careful planning.

“We’re also examining the potential operational implications of setting up a humanitarian response on Bhasan Char, including the requirements, time frames and costs involved in providing services,” reads the UN statement.

The UN considers that any relocation to Bhasan Char “must be on a voluntary basis.”

The UN said Rohingya people should have relevant, accurate and timely information on the project from the government, so they can make free and informed decisions.

The views and concerns of refugees must be heard and addressed as part of the consultative process, reads the statement on the potential relocation of Rohingyas by the government of Bangladesh to Bhasan Char.

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