Rohingya Crisis: Govt ready to address their realistic needs
Bangladesh government is ready to address any realistic needs and concerns of the Rohingyas, said foreign ministry yesterday, a day after a large demonstration by the Rohingyas in Bhasan Char in presence of a UN delegation.
"The 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," said foreign ministry in a statement.
Gillian Triggs and Raouf Mazou -- assistant high commissioner for protection and operations respectively -- from the UNHCR visited on Monday the 100,000-capacity housing facility built by the Bangladesh Navy.
Some 20,000 Rohingyas have already been relocated there since December last year from Cox's Bazar camps where nearly a million Rohingyas, mostly those who fled military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state, live.
Some 40 national NGOs and a few international NGOs are operating humanitarian assistance. The UN is yet to engage in the operations in Bhasan Char, though a UN delegation recently made positive observations on the facility.
The statement said the UN team, accompanied by senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visited Bhasan Char yesterday when a large number of Rohingya gathered and staged a demonstration.
"At one point, the crowd got agitated and in the process, some of the Rohingyas reportedly got minor injuries. Once the delegation left the island, the situation normalised," the statement said.
During the interactions with the UN officials, the Rohingyas had free and frank interactions and vented out their frustration and concerns over uncertainty vis-à-vis repatriation.
"In absence of any progress in repatriation, they expressed desperation to get out of the present situation and requested to consider relocation to a third country."
The Rohingyas demanded UN's presence in Bhasan Char to ensure facilities such as education, livelihood activities, skill development and confirmed to the UN delegations that their relocation to Bhasan char was completely on a voluntary basis.
The foreign ministry said in recent times OIC assistant secretary general, 18-member UN team and a group of foreign ambassadors visited Bhasan Char when Rohingyas spontaneously and happily interacted with the visiting guests both in informal and formal settings.
However, the government noted with great disappointment that a section of international media and civil society organisations have been continuously campaigning against Bhasan Char and Rohingya relocation with "distorted information misrepresenting the facts".
"Such campaign will undermine the magnanimous humanitarian gestures and the sincere efforts of Bangladesh. 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."
The ministry said it must be remembered that the 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.
Despite repeated attempts, Rohingyas refused to return to Myanmar citing absence of a conducive conditions, no guarantee of safety, and citizenship.