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UN should help Rohingyas in Bhasan Char as per mandate: FM

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Monday said the United Nations should help Rohingyas in Bhasan Char following the mandate on the basis of which the UN works in Bangladesh.

“They (UN) should follow their mandate (on refugees). It doesn’t matter where they’re living,” he told reporters.

Dr Momen said the UN should not think of whether the Rohingyas are living in Kutupalong, Bhasan Char or somewhere else. “It’s their mandate to help them (refugees). They should do it.”

He said the government is currently providing food assistance to Rohingyas in Bhasan Char but hoped that the UN will come forward to its agencies to help Rohingyas.

Responding to a question, Dr Momen said the relocation of Rohingyas to Bhasan Char will have no negative impact on repatriation efforts.

“We’ve made this arrangement for a short period. Maybe these people will get back to Myanmar in the first batch when Myanmar will start taking back Rohingyas from Bangladesh,” he said.

Responding to a question over 300 Rohingyas rescued from the sea, Dr Momen said Bangladesh saved their lives when no country came forward.

“They were dying. Nobody did accept them,” he said adding their all eight neighbouring countries had equal responsibility to save those floating Rohingyas.

Dr Momen said they have no right to talk about these rescued Rohingyas from the sea those who talk about human rights but did not come forward to help these groups of Rohingyas.

Dr Momen said Bhasan Char is a temporary arrangement while Rohingya repatriation remains a permanent solution.

“We want solution. Myanmar created the problem and the solution lies with Myanmar. Rohingyas must go back to Rakhine. That’s our target,” he said.

The Foreign Minister said people have very poor idea about the Bhasan Char and its facilities.

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He said the government will relocate more Rohingyas to Bhasan Char but only those who are willing to go voluntarily.

Responding to a question, Dr Momen said the UN remains engaged with everything since day one but they go for “pick and choose” which is very “unfortunate.”

The Foreign Minister also raised question about the transparency of fund management by the UN agencies.

“They are raising funds in the name of Bangladesh and Rohingyas. They spend the money. But we don’t know how they spend. Is there any transparency in their spending?,” Dr Momen said.

Bangladesh invested US$350 million to develop Bhasan Char. Photo: AP

On Saturday, UN Resident Coordinator in Dhaka Mia Seppo said all the UN agencies recognise the enormous investment that the government of Bangladesh has made in building Bhasan Char for Rohingya relocation.

“We recognise the enormous investment…that’s obviously a sign of the search for solutions in managing the situation,” she told journalists after attending a programme marking the International Volunteer Day.

The government invested more than US$ 350 million to develop the island.

The 13,000 acres island has all modern amenities, year-round fresh water, beautiful lake and proper infrastructure and enhanced facilities, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

These include uninterrupted supply of electricity and water, agricultural plots, cyclone shelters, two hospitals, four community clinics, mosques, warehouses, telecommunication services, police station, recreation and learning centers, playgrounds, etc.

The UNRC said the ultimate solution of the Rohingya crisis of course lies in Myanmar and it is Myanmar’s responsibility to create conducive conditions for return of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State.

She said all the UN agencies recognise the generosity of Bangladesh in hosting Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar. “That’s a difficult situation.”

Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar, and majority of them entered Bangladesh since August 25, 2017 amid military crackdowns on the mainly-Muslim ethnic minority by the Myanmar security forces.

In the face of growing concern over the extreme congestion in the camps of Cox’s Bazar and to avert any risk of death due to landslides and other unwarranted incidents, the government has decided to relocate, 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhashan Char in phases.

Bangladesh plans to relocate 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhasan Char in phases. Photo: AP

Accordingly, in the first phase, more than 1,600 Rohingyas, who expressed their willingness voluntarily for relocation, were shifted to Bhashan Char on Friday afternoon.

Foreign Minister Dr Momen said the global leadership and the UN agencies have been extending lip services to the persecuted people of Myanmar and making statements again and again but no one came forward either for their relocation or sending them back to their country of origin – Myanmar.

The Foreign Minister said relocation of Rohingyas is taking place in phases in order to avoid deaths and accidents due to landslides and other untoward incidents in the overcrowded hilly areas of Kutopalong where drug trafficking, fleshtrade and law and order situation have been deteriorating and also to provide better living condition for the time being.

Dr Momen said that while the international agencies make noise about facilities in the Rohingya camps or Bhasan Char, no one had the courage and sincerity to approach Myanmar to create conducive environment leading to their repatriation to their own country in safety and security and in a dignified way for the wellbeing of Myanmar.

If these desparate people with no hope for the future are left alone, there is always a possibility of pockets of radicalism and terrorism, and this may create uncertainty in the region, frustrating the ongoing developnent projects in Myanmar, said the Foreign Minister.

Over the last three years, trade and investment from European, ASEAN, China, Japan, UK have increased manyfold in Myanmar in spite of violation of human rights in Myanmar, Dr Momen observed.

He said none of the human rights organisations have started any blockade of those countries that are heavily investing in Myanmar, nor asking for divestment as they did in the case of Apartheid in South Africa.

“Fact of the matter is, the Rohingya problem was created by Myanmar and they are the only one who can solve it,” he said.

Dr Momen said all international organisations and important countries of the world must commit themselves to approach Myanmar in a meaningful way to resolve this crisis, the sooner the better.

Source: United News of Bangladesh