Bhasan Char: UN says it has limited information on relocation of Rohingyas
As the government moves to relocate Rohingyas to Bhasan Char, the UN says it has not been involved in preparations for the movement or the identification of refugees and has limited information on the overall relocation exercise.
Government sources said some 2,500Rohingyas may be moved to Bhasan Char -- where Bangladesh Navy has prepared a housing project -- in a couple of days.
The move is meant to ease the congestion in the Cox's Bazar refugee camps, housing some one million Rohingyas.
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In a statement today, the UN Refugee Agency said it is aware of reports that Bangladesh government may begin the initial movements of Rohingya refugees from Cox's Bazar to Bhasan Char in the Bay of Bengal in the coming days, but has not been involved in the preparation process.
The United Nations highlighted its longstanding position that Rohingya refugees must be able to make a free and informed decision about relocating to Bhasan Char based upon relevant, accurate and updated information.
The government has indicated that movement to the island will be voluntary, and the United Nations calls on the government to respect this important commitment.
The UN also emphasised that refugees who choose to move to Bhasan Char should have basic rights and services on the island, which would include effective freedom of movement to and from the mainland, as well as access to education, healthcare, and livelihood opportunities.
Since the government announced the Bhasan Char project, the UN has offered to engage in constructive consultations aimed at better understanding the plan.
The UN remains willing to continue this dialogue, the statement said.
The UN has also consistently maintained that any relocation should be preceded by comprehensive technical assessments that would review the safety, feasibility and sustainability of Bhasan Char as a place for refugees to live, as well as the framework for protection and the assistance and services they would be able to access on the island.
The United Nations said it is prepared to proceed with the technical and protection assessments, if permitted by the government. These assessments would be the concrete next step in determining whether the United Nations can engage operationally with the Government's Bhasan Char project.
The United Nations remains focused on supporting the government's leading role in delivering an effective and efficient humanitarian programme for the nearly 900,000 Rohingya refugees living in the Cox's Bazar settlements, while also intensively working toward solutions for them, including through their safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return to Myanmar, it said.
The UN said it appreciates the generosity and humanitarian spirit of the government and people of Bangladesh in offering safety and shelter to the Rohingya refugees and remains committed to its partnership in a humanitarian response that has saved many thousands of lives and supported many more.