General

Focusing on repatriation; Bhasan Char temporary plan: Shahriar

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam on Monday said Bangladesh has been able to establish two things in the Joint Response Plan (JRP) -- focus on Rohingya repatriation as a solution and making sure that Rohingya relocation to Bhasan Char is a temporary arrangement until repatriation takes place.

“We could reestablish two things in this JRP -- one is repatriation while another one is that we didn’t allow it (Bhasan Char) to become a permanent mechanism,” he told a small group of journalists, including the UNB correspondent, at his office.

He said the Bhasan Char issue will be there in the 2021 Joint Response Plan (JRP) but the details will be known after its formal launching tomorrow (Tuesday).

Shahriar said additional funding will be sought once the relocation process at Bhasan Char is completed as the government has a plan to shift 100,000 Rohingyas there from Cox’s Bazar’s congested camps.

So far, around 20,000 Rohingyas have been relocated to Bhasan Char under the government arrangement, said the State Minister.

He said the technical committee and the major contributors of the JRP said positive things about Bhasan Char.

When the UN will formally take up the responsibility of Rohingyas at Bhasan Char, it will further be evaluated how much funding will be required. “The final decision will be given by the UN.”

Shahriar said Bangladesh is focusing on repatriation and Bhasan Char is a temporary arrangement though many tried to make it a permanent mechanism.

“We could reestablish two things in this JRP – one is repatriation while another one is that we didn’t allow it (Bhasan Char) to become a permanent mechanism,” he said.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller met State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

They exchanged views on number of global and bilateral issues, including the launching of the annual Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the humanitarian operations for displaced Rohingyas, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the COVID situation and vaccine issue.

“They’re trying so that a senior US official can virtually join the launching event from Washington,” Shahriar said, adding that it is the reflection of US’ continuous support towards Bangladesh on repatriation and rehabilitation of Rohingyas.

The US Ambassador informed that the US would again be the largest contributor to the JRP for Rohingyas, which will be virtually launched and will attended by State Minister Shariar Alam.

He also stated that the US would continue its support to Bangladesh in bearing the burden of the displaced population.

The State Minister emphasised that sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas remains as the priority of Bangladesh, and also emphasised receiving international support for the displaced Rohingyas relocated to Bhashan Char.

The US$943 million plan seeks to meet the needs of more than 880,000 Rohingya refugees and 472,000 Bangladeshis in the surrounding host communities in Cox’s Bazar district.

Most Rohingya refugees, some 740,000, fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in 2017.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has called for renewed international commitment, support and solidarity for Rohingyas ahead of next Tuesday’s donors’ conference.

The 2021 JRP brings together the efforts of the Government of Bangladesh, and 134 UN agencies and NGO partners to target almost 1.4 million people this year, said UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic in Geneva recently.

Jointly co-hosted by the Government of Bangladesh, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the virtual 2021 JRP launch event will highlight the most immediate needs and ongoing humanitarian response.

The virtual 2021 JRP launch event is scheduled to run from 10:00am to 12:00 pm CEST Geneva (2:00pm – 4:00pm GMT+6 in Dhaka; 3:00pm – 5:00pm GMT+7 in Bangkok) on Tuesday (May 18). The event will be live streamed.

Last year, the United Nations appealed for more than US$1 billion to meet the needs of the Rohingya refugees and host communities in Cox’s Bazar District.

At the end of 2020, this appeal was just 59.4% funded.

"We stress that the international community must not only maintain support for refugees and their hosts, but also adapt to new and emerging needs and pursue the search for durable solutions," said the spokesperson.

More than 880,000 Rohingya refugees and 472,000 Bangladeshis in the surrounding host communities in Cox’s Bazar District are brought under the plan.

Also read: Miller discusses JRP, bilateral issues with Shahriar

Most Rohingya refugees, some 740,000, fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in 2017.

With the refugee crisis in its fourth year, Bangladesh needs robust and sustained international support to ensure the safety and wellbeing of stateless Rohingya refugees, said Mahecic.

This must not become a forgotten crisis. Both Rohingya refugees and Bangladesh, having generously hosted them for decades, must see the world standing with them, said the Spokesperson.

Adding to the complexity of this crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic has compounded vulnerabilities for refugees and host communities alike.

To date, the government of Bangladesh, with the support of the humanitarian community, has effectively managed the Covid-19 response and the spread of the disease in the Rohingya camps and surrounding areas, though the trajectory of the virus remains unpredictable, UNHCR said.

A coordinated and inclusive response has saved lives. However, it is critical to ensure the continued delivery of all humanitarian assistance and protection services.

The needs of Rohingya refugees reach beyond subsistence and physical safety. Refugees, like any other people, cannot be allowed to wait for years without access to education and options for a decent life and a meaningful future.

In order to mitigate the risks of people taking dangerous onward journeys, more must be done to ensure that refugees have hope in Bangladesh, and of a future back home in Myanmar.

Otherwise, they may increasingly risk such journeys by land or sea to find a solution elsewhere.

The search for durable solutions must remain focused on the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees to their homes in Myanmar, when conditions allow them to do so.

Also read: Ensure women’s participation in all peace initiatives: Shahriar

However, the ongoing crisis and political instability in Myanmar have added new layers of complexity to this challenge.

Source: United News of Bangladesh