Govt places two proposals to relocate Rohingyas to Bhashan Char

Prime minister’s principal secretary M Tofazzel Hossain Miah places the proposals at a meeting with the foreign diplomats and representatives of different agencies stationed in Dhaka held at the Prime Minister’s Office on 2 March 2023

The government on Thursday made two proposals, seeking assistance from foreign countries and international agencies, to relocate more Rohingyas to Bhashan Char from Cox’s Bazar camps for the better wellbeing of the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals.

The proposals were placed to bear the expenses of their relocation and construction of more infrastructures in Bhashan Char to prepare its remaining two-third areas liveable for the displaced Rohingyas.

Prime minister’s principal secretary M Tofazzel Hossain Miah placed the proposals at a meeting with the foreign diplomats and representatives of different agencies stationed in Dhaka held at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The representatives from 17 countries and agencies, including Australia, the US, the UK, France, Germany and UNHCR attended the meeting.

“We’ve told the international community that we can relocate more Rohingya people to Bhashan Char in a very quick time, where more safety and betterment of their children will be ensured. So, we’ve given them two proposals,” the principal secretary told the media after the meeting.

About the first proposal, he said housing for 100,000 people was built in Bhasan Char and only 30,000 people were relocated there.

“Now, we want to shift 70,000 more people to the place, which is an expensive matter,” he said, adding that “We’ve asked the friendly countries who work with us to bear the cost of relocating these Rohingya people from Cox’s Bazar to Bhashan Char. The prime minister wants it seriously.”

Regarding the second proposal, Tofazzel said only one-third of land of the Bhashan Char was used (for infrastructure to house 100,000 Rohingya) and now the prime minister wants the infrastructures to be constructed in the remaining two-third land and more Rohingya to be taken there.

“So, Bangladesh has sought assistance (from foreign friends) to construct new infrastructure there,” he said.

In the meeting, the foreign countries and agencies were asked to put importance to the Rohingya issue in different international forums, he said.

Tofazzel Hossain Miah also said Rohingya people will get better life and livelihood in Bhashan Char as they get skill development training and opportunities for agricultural works, including raising chickens and ducks, and rearing cows and goats.

He mentioned that the Rohingyas taken to Bhashan Char are brought to meet their relatives in Cox’s Bazar after some days regularly.

Turning to the sufferings of the Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar, he said several social problems, including internal conflict, infighting, arson attack, and killing and trafficking are being created due to the stay of Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar. Many of them are getting involved in drug smuggling and trading, he added.

Mentioning that the fund to conduct humanitarian activities for Rohingyas is not being received as per commitment of the donors, Tofazzel said Bangladesh received some US$ 586 million which is 62 per cent of the committed amount of US$ 876 million in 2022. So, Bangladesh asked the friendly countries to provide the increased amount, he added.

He further said the government spent some Taka 31 billion to prepare the Bhashan Char for Rohingya people.

Australian High Commissioner Jeremy Brewer, Canadian High Commissioner Lilly Nicholls, EU Ambassador Charles Whiteley, UK High Commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson, US Ambassador Peter D. Haas, French Ambassador Marie Masdupuy, German Ambassador Achim Troster, Swedish Ambassador Alexandra Berg von Linde, UN Resident Coordinator Gwyn Lewis, UNHCR Representative Johannes van der Klaauw, WFP Resident Representative Dom Scalpelli, Charges d’affaires of Switzerland embassy Suzanne Mueller, Deputy Head of Japanese Mission Machida Tatsuya, Deputy Chief of Netherlands Embassy Thijs Woudstra, Deputy Chief of Turkish Embassy Batuhan Gurhan, Head of Cooperation for Rohingya Refugees and Host Communities Program of Canadian High Commission Vivek Prakash and Regional Refugee Coordinator of the US Embassy Mackenzie Rowe attended the meeting.

High officials from different ministries concerned including the senior secretaries of the foreign ministry and the public security division, and the secretaries of relief and disaster management ministry and the prime minister’s office, were present in the meeting.