DHAKA: A UN crew has ended its first go to to a distant Bangladesh-built island, the place it has relocated almost 14,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees since December final yr regardless of criticism from rights teams.
The three-day go to to Bhasan Char, dubbed Rohingya Island, started on March 17 with UN specialists touring by boat from Chottogram.
“The United Nations crew was made up of 18 specialists from totally different United Nations companies concerned within the response to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. The go to was facilitated and accompanied by officers from the federal government of Bangladesh, ”Louise Donovan, spokesperson for the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cox’s Bazar, informed Arab Information.
Situated within the Bay of Bengal, 60 km from the mainland, Bhasan Char was constructed by Bangladesh in 2006 utilizing Himalayan silt, at a price of over $ 360 million, to alleviate the overcrowded camps of Cox’s Bazar.
Every Bhasan Char home has concrete rooms of 2m x 2.5m, with small home windows and a bathroom, for 11 folks.
Nonetheless, UNHCR expressed concern about Bhasan Char’s vulnerability to inclement climate and flooding, which led to a UN proposal in December 2019 for a “technical evaluation” of the island.
Wednesday’s go to marked a breakthrough within the proposal. It follows varied makes an attempt by the UN refugee company to go to the power, pending authorities permission to conduct the evaluation, amid considerations over whether or not resettlement was protected.
Related considerations have been raised by a number of worldwide rights organizations which have urged Bangladesh to not relocate the Rohingya to the island, believing they have been in an space vulnerable to cyclones.
“In the course of the go to, the United Nations crew assessed the wants of Rohingya refugees dwelling in Bhasan Char, together with by conferences with Rohingya males, girls, girls and boys. The UN crew additionally met with native authorities and safety companies engaged on the island, in addition to a few of the NGOs and merchants working there, ”Donovan stated.
Dhaka stated it has arrange 120 cyclone shelters – constructed 4 ft above the bottom – which may very well be used as hospitals, colleges and neighborhood facilities all year long.
“The UN additionally visited the infrastructure and services of Bhasan Char. This included lodging, well being services, multi-purpose buildings, police and fireplace stations, transport infrastructure, electrical energy and telecommunications programs, and flood reduction, ”Donovan stated.
The UN has but to share its findings on the journey, however thanked the federal government of Bangladesh for “facilitating the go to”, including that it appeared ahead to “continued dialogue”.
An official from the Bangladesh Refugee Reduction and Repatriation Fee (RRRC) confirmed the go to, including that the UN crew had assessed the island in “each doable dimension.”
“They spoke with the Rohingya, visited the provision chain and held conferences with varied representatives of NGOs which might be at the moment offering humanitarian assist on the island,” stated the official, who requested anonymity. as a result of he was not licensed to talk to the media.
Dr Mohamad Arfin Rahman, a well being sector official at Bangladeshi NGO Gonoshasthaya Kendra, stated UN specialists met them twice to get “a full image” of the humanitarian work being accomplished on the Isle.
“The United Nations crew needed to learn about our actions and our work course of. They’re making an attempt to get a whole image of humanitarian operations in all facets, ”Rahman informed Arab Information.
There are 34 non-profit teams at the moment engaged on the island to supply humanitarian assist to refugees.
Bangladeshi International Minister AK Abdul Momen urged the UN to begin operations on Bhasan Char as a result of it could be “an enormous activity to take care of 100,000 refugees on the island”.
Saiful Islam Chowdhury, Managing Director of Pulse Bangladesh, an NGO on Bhasan Char, agreed: “I hope the UN will begin operations on Bhasan Char quickly. In any other case, will probably be troublesome for us to proceed humanitarian assist for a very long time. “
The worldwide assist company Medicins Sans Frontières (MSF) continued to precise considerations in regards to the island’s well being services.
“We perceive that native NGOs solely present very fundamental main well being care. To our data, secondary and specialised well being providers usually are not accessible. We do not understand how sufferers requiring emergency medical care are transferred to hospital from the island, on condition that it’s a three hour boat experience from the mainland, ”stated Bernard Wiseman, MSF Head of Mission in Bangladesh, at Arab Information.
Bernard stated that whereas MSF didn’t have rapid plans to begin operations on Bhasan Char, “we’re involved with the authorities to debate potential entry to the island”.
“We now have to make it possible for any doable go to or analysis on our half would meet acceptable situations in line with our rules (independence, medical wants first, and so on.). We’re additionally making an attempt to know the dwelling situations and the provision of well being providers in Bhasan Char, ”he stated.
The Rohingya are members of an ethnic and spiritual minority group, a lot of whom fled persecution in Myanmar throughout a army crackdown in 2017.
The predominantly Buddhist Myanmar considers the Rohingya to be the “Bengalis” of Bangladesh, though their households have lived within the nation for generations.
Virtually all have been denied citizenship for many years, and they’re additionally denied freedom of motion and different fundamental rights.