Rohingya: Switzerland committed to supporting Bangladesh, improving living conditions in camps

Switzerland’s Ambassador to Bangladesh Nathalie Chuard has said there is a growing global expectation to address the root causes of the Rohingya crisis and prepare the ground for a sustainable return of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Myanmar.

Ambassador Chuard, however, said the conditions required for a sustainable, voluntary, safe and dignified return are not there yet.

“It’s important that the international community continues supporting Bangladesh in its humanitarian efforts, and that this support includes key elements facilitating refugees’ return, such as documentation, education and skills,” she told UNB in an interview at her residence.

For Switzerland, the Ambassador said, this is very important to foster the dialogue with all actors around this crisis.

“I can say that the international community continues to work closely and jointly with all the countries and stakeholders in the region to find a durable solution to the Rohingya crisis,” said Ambassador Chuard.

She, however, said they are also looking for a solution within the framework of international humanitarian and human rights laws, and want to ensure that humanitarian access is given to all refugees.

Bhasan Char

Ambassador Chuard highly appreciates Bangladesh for hosting Rohingyas. “I very much commend the generosity and hospitality of the government and the people of Bangladesh.”

“When it comes to the planned relocation of Rohingyas to Bhasan Char, I’ve to echo what many members of the international community have already said. We need to have the critical protection, basic rights, services and operational issues assessed and addressed effectively,” she said.

Ambassador Chuard said that an independent and comprehensive technical and protection assessment should be done regarding the feasibility and safety of such relocation.

The government of Bangladesh says it will relocate 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhasan Char and there is an indication that the relocation will begin from the first week of December in small groups without giving any big announcement.

Comprehensive Response

Ambassador Chuard, who recently visited the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, said she is really amazed with the comprehensive response from all actors.

“There’s a very strong and very important collaboration among all actors,” said the Ambassador, who met partners, government and UN officials on the ground.

The Swiss Ambassador is also pleased to see that deforestation has now been somehow turned into reforestation. “That’s a very positive signal.”

The envoy said she was in a position to see with her own eyes how the partners are adjusting their activities with the Covid-19 situation.

“I was impressed by how humanitarian actors adapted their operations to the new set of challenges while still being focused on responding to the needs,” she said.

Mentioning that the Rohingya crisis entered the fourth year, she said people want to go home in Myanmar.

“It’s crucial to give them the hope and perspectives. Living conditions remain dire, with enduring protection concerns related to safety and security, especially for the most vulnerable groups, such as women and girls,” said the Ambassador.

Since the beginning of Covid, increased gender-based violence has been reported in the camps.

Switzerland highlights these critical concerns and the importance of addressing protection issues, as well as livelihood and education opportunities for the Rohingyas.

Responding to a question on the host community, the Ambassador said Switzerland’s support is not only going to the camps but also to the host communities.

Switzerland has an active presence in Cox’s Bazar with direct actions addressing challenges such as sanitation and waste management at district level.

“It’s a crucial upgrade for the district, and I’m proud that Switzerland has the expertise and technology that can improve the current infrastructure,” said Ambassador Chuard.

Repatriation attempts failed twice in November 2018 and August 2019 amid Rohingyas’ lack of trust in the Myanmar government.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017.

On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.

Source: United News of Bangladesh