The Bangladesh government and the United Nations (UN) yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a common protection and policy framework for humanitarian response to Rohingya in Bhasan Char.
The MoU was inked between the country's disaster management and relief ministry and the UNHCR, on behalf of UN agencies working on the Rohingya response in Bangladesh, at the secretariat in the capital.
The MoU is a further expression of the government and people of Bangladesh's generosity and support toward the Rohingya population until they can return safely and sustainably to Myanmar, said an UNHCR media release after the signing ceremony.
The MoU is also a reconfirmation of the UN's commitment to continuing support for Bangladesh in leading the humanitarian programme for almost 900,000 forcefully displaced Rohingyas in the country, it added.
The agreement relating to Bhasan Char allows close cooperation between the government and the UN on services and activities to benefit the increasing numbers of Rohingyas living on the island.
The MoU covers key areas of protection, education, skills-training, livelihoods and health, which will help support the refugees to lead decent lives on the island and better prepare them for sustainable return to Myanmar in the future.
The UN response will build up and complement the humanitarian assistance so far provided by Bangladeshi NGOs on the island, said the release.
Prior to signing the MoU, the UN has held discussions with the Rohingya community in Cox's Bazar, as well as those already on the island, including during the UN visit to Bhasan Char in March 2021, to better understand their needs and views.
These discussions, as well as those with government counterparts and Bangladeshi NGOs working on the island are expected to continue on a regular basis and further inform any humanitarian and protection responses on Bhasan Char, said the UNHCR.
The statement said the UN encourages the international community to increase its generous support to the humanitarian response in Bangladesh, recognising that the Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Response in Cox's Bazar is currently less than half funded for this year.
This support should continue until refugees are able to return to Myanmar in a safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable manner, which remains a shared priority of the UN and Government of Bangladesh, as well as the desire of the Rohingya refugees in the country, it added.
Bangladesh Navy has implemented the Ashryan-3 at Bhashan Char, an island of Bay of Bengal, at a cost of Tk3,100 crore for accommodating 100,000 Rohingyas while so far nearly 20,000 Rohingyas have been relocated to the island from Cox's Bazar.
A total of 120 brick-built cluster villages and 120 cyclone shelters, facilities for education, hospital, farming and fishing, playground and presence of law enforcers make the island a much better living place for the Rohingyas than that of Cox's Bazar camps.
Since 25 August in 2017, Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million forcefully displaced Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar district and most of them arrived there after a military crackdown by Myanmar, which the UN called a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing" and other rights groups dubbed as "genocide".
Bangladesh so far provided the neighbour biometric data of 8,30,000 Rohingyas while the Myanmar authority by now verified only 42,000 of them.
Myanmar, however, is yet to return a single Rohingya in the last four years while repatriation attempts failed twice due to trust deficit among the Rohingyas about their safety and security in Rakhine state.
Another 80,000 Rohingyas to be relocated within 3 months: Enamur
State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Md Enamur Rahman said that another 80,000 'forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals' (FDMN) will be relocated to Bhasanchar in next three months.
"In the next three months, an additional 80,000 Rohingyas' will be relocated to Bhasanchar. With the help of some local and international NGOs, humanitarian assistance is being provided to the FDMN's relocated to Bhasanchar," he said.
The state minister said this while speaking as chief guest at the MoU signing ceremony yesterday.
Parliamentary Standing Committee Chairman on Disaster Management and Relief Captain (retd) AB Tajul Islam, MP also spoke, among others, on the occasion as special guest.
Enamur said that as per recommendations of the Technical and Protection Sub-Committee formed in 2018, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief constructed a total of 1,440 houses and 120 cyclone shelters in Bhasanchar for the accommodation of one lakh forcibly displaced Myanmar citizens under the Asrayan-3 project.
From 3 December, 2020 to 4 April, 2021, some 18,846 'forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals' from 4,724 families were relocated to Bhasanchar, he added.