Thursday 19, May 2022

UNHCR sees clear improvement of condition, services in Bhasan Char

Eyes alternative solutions to Rohingya resettlement to third countries

United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Kelly T Clements yesterday said Bhasan Char has the potential to become a temporary stay for Rohingya refugees.

She said there has been clear improvement in the conditions and availability of services since UNHCR and UN partners began supporting the government last October.

However, its sustainability will depend on scaling up health and education services, improving access to livelihoods and income generating activities, and above all, continuing to ensure the voluntariness of relocations to the island and regular family visits to and from the mainland, Clements said.

With return to Myanmar unlikely in the immediate future, UNHCR has underscored the need for a more comprehensive approach to humanitarian support.

This includes alternative solutions for Rohingya refugees such as resettlement to third countries for the most vulnerable with specific protection needs, and complementary pathways overseas which could include employment and educational opportunities, said the UN refugee agency.

UNHCR reaffirmed its commitment to continue to support both Bangladeshi and Rohingya communities, while calling on the international community to stand by the government and people of Bangladesh until the situation in Myanmar allows for a safe, dignified, and sustainable return.

Kelly T Clements and UNHCR Director for Asia and the Pacific Indrika Ratwatte undertook a joint visit to Bangladesh from February 13 to 18.

They visited the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar where over 1.1 million Rohingya refugees reside, as well as to the island of Bhasan Char, and meetings with senior government officials, local and international partners.

Clements called for continued international support for Rohingya refugees, and the government and people of Bangladesh.

She reiterated UNHCR's commitment towards voluntary repatriation and other solutions, while underlining the need to build resilience and invest in refugees' capacities in preparation for a future safe and voluntary return to Myanmar.

Throughout their visit, the Deputy High Commissioner and Director for Asia and the Pacific reiterated their sincere appreciation to the government and people of Bangladesh for hosting Rohingya refugees who have sought protection from violence and persecution in Myanmar.

The delegation spoke with refugees to understand their needs and challenges, and the contributions they wish to make to their own future.

On their first visit to Bhasan Char, the delegation recognised the positive work being done by the government and local civil society partners on the island.

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