MoU signed on UN’s operational engagement in Bhasan Char

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MoU signedBangladesh and the UN signed a formal document Saturday, ending a long wait for a much-sought UN engagement at Bhasan Char on the humanitarian front to support the Rohingyas there.

Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief Md Mohsin and UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the secretariat at 12 pm.

State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr M Enamur Rahman witnessed the signing ceremony.

Enamur said they have finally taken the right decision and it will be much easier for humanitarian agencies to provide services following today’s MoU signing.

The signing of the MoU demonstrates the UN’s support to the government’s massive investment there to ensure better living for the Rohingyas, officials said.

The numerous challenges associated with the temporary hosting of persecuted Rohingyas from Myanmar have compelled the Bangladesh government to plan the relocation of 1 lakh Rohingyas to Bhashan Char, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

Nearly 20,000 Rohingyas moved to Bhasan Char in December last year in several groups.

Around 1,642 Rohingyas were relocated to Bhashan Char on December 4 last year while the second batch, comprising 1,804 Rohingyas, had been transferred from Cox’s Bazar to the island on December 29 last year.

Bhasan Char, a temporary shelter for Rohingyas until repatriation, remained unhurt with no casualty to personnel and livestock during recent cyclones, officials said.

During his recent visit, former United Nations General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir highly appreciated Bangladesh’s efforts for Rohingyas in Bhashan Char, saying it will be another example to the world on how to deal with the refugee issues. “I applaud the work done there – the quality of buildings and all the precautions.”

Bozkir hoped that this would work well for the Rohingya people, giving them a better condition in Bhashan Char.

The government re-emphasized that Bhashan Char is completely safe and suitable for human habitation.

The 30-year-old island has all the amenities, including healthcare, drinking water, options for economic activities, and cyclone shelters, it said.

The island offers enough space for the free movement of the Rohingyas.

Officials at the MoFA said it should be remembered that Rohingyas are Myanmar nationals and Bhasan Char and Cox’s Bazar camps are temporary arrangements. “Bangladesh has temporarily been hosting them purely out of the humanitarian gesture.”

“Rohingyas want to return to their homeland, Myanmar, and all need to work constructively to that end,” a MoFA official said.

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