DHAKA: A UN workforce has ended its first go to to a distant Bangladesh-built island, the place it has relocated practically 14,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees since December final 12 months 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 workforce was made up of 18 specialists from completely different United Nations businesses 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.
Positioned within the Bay of Bengal, 60 km from the mainland, Bhasan Char was constructed by Bangladesh in 2006 utilizing Himalayan silt, at a value 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 individuals.
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 numerous 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 liable to cyclones.
“Through the go to, the United Nations workforce assessed the wants of Rohingya refugees residing in Bhasan Char, together with via conferences with Rohingya males, ladies, girls and boys. The UN workforce additionally met with native authorities and safety businesses engaged on the island, in addition to a few of the NGOs and merchants working there, ”Donovan mentioned.
Dhaka mentioned it has arrange 120 cyclone shelters – constructed 4 toes above the bottom – which may very well be used as hospitals, colleges and group 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 hearth stations, transport infrastructure, electrical energy and telecommunications methods, and flood reduction, ”Donovan mentioned.
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 regarded ahead to “continued dialogue”.
An official from the Bangladesh Refugee Aid and Repatriation Fee (RRRC) confirmed the go to, including that the UN workforce had assessed the island in “each attainable dimension.”
“They spoke with the Rohingya, visited the availability chain and held conferences with numerous representatives of NGOs which might be at the moment offering humanitarian assist on the island,” mentioned 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, mentioned UN specialists met them twice to get “a full image” of the humanitarian work being carried out on the Isle.
“The United Nations workforce needed to learn about our actions and our work course of. They’re attempting to get an entire image of humanitarian operations in all points, ”Rahman informed Arab Information.
There are 34 non-profit teams at the moment engaged on the island to supply humanitarian assist to refugees.
Bangladeshi Overseas Minister AK Abdul Momen urged the UN to begin operations on Bhasan Char as a result of it will be “an enormous job 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, it will likely be tough 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 information, secondary and specialised well being companies are usually not obtainable. 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 trip from the mainland, ”mentioned Bernard Wiseman, MSF Head of Mission in Bangladesh, at Arab Information.
Bernard mentioned that whereas MSF didn’t have fast 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 attainable go to or analysis on our half would meet acceptable situations in keeping with our rules (independence, medical wants first, and many others.). We’re additionally attempting to know the residing situations and the supply of well being companies in Bhasan Char, ”he mentioned.
The Rohingya are members of an ethnic and non secular minority group, lots 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, despite the fact that their households have lived within the nation for generations.
Nearly all have been denied citizenship for many years, and they’re additionally denied freedom of motion and different fundamental rights.