Bangladesh kept UN out of Rohingya relocation process because of its rigidity

A “negative campaign, unrealistic conditions and static position” of the United Nations agencies made it impossible for the government to include them in the relocation of the Rohingya refugees to the Bhasan Char island, the foreign ministry has said.

Published : 8 Dec 2020, 01:40 PM
Updated : 8 Dec 2020, 01:40 PM

The relocation of the first batch of 1,642 members of Rohingya families to island on Dec 4 followed a decision taken by the “highest level” of the government and was based on the refugees’ “full consent”, the ministry said in a report.

Rohingya refugee Mohammad Jobayer and his family members on the Bhasan Char island after their relocation from Cox’s Bazar. Photo: Reazul Bashar

It submitted the report on the latest updates on the relocation and repatriation of the refugees to the parliamentary standing committee on the ministry in a meeting on Tuesday.

Most of the relocated Rohingya expressed satisfaction over the environment and facilities at the Bhasan Char, the report said.

The ministry continues to persuade the UN and other international organisations and donor countries to provide the relocated Rohingya with aid.

The UN and human rights groups have been voicing concerns over environmental safety of the refugees since the government planned two years ago to relocate 100,000 Rohingya out of over 1 million from Cox’s Bazar camps considering the social issues.

A Rohingya man speaks to his relatives, who are in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps, over phone after his relocation to the Bhasan Char island. Photo: Reazul Bashar

Accordingly, the government prepared the 13,000-acre island for human habitation. As many as 306 refugees were recently sent there after they had been rescued while being trafficked to Malaysia.

The parliamentary committee’s Chairman Muhammad Faruk Khan said it thinks that “a negative campaign” by the rescued refugees stopped the UN from changing its stance. The committee has recommended sending them to their relatives in Cox’s Bazar camps from the island.

The UN appeared “a bit flexible” on the issue finally, Khan said.

He said the committee wants a “massive” campaign to propagate nationally and internationally the message that the relocated refugees are happy about the condition of the island.

A man sees a doctor at the Bhasan Char healthcare centre. Photo: Reazul Bashar

Parliament Secretariat said in a statement that the committee recommended more intense diplomatic efforts to repatriate the Rohingya to their homeland.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, and MPs Md Abdul Majid Khan, Nahim Razzaq and Kazi Nabil Ahmed attended the meeting.