Bangladesh seeks foreign funds to relocate 70,000 Rohingyas to Bhasan Char

Photo-2: Rohingya Camp, Kutupalong

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News Desk

Bangladesh government has placed two proposals seeking assistance from international community to relocate more Rohingya people to Bhashan Char island from camps in Cox’s Bazar for the wellbeing of the displaced Myanmar nationals.

Under the proposals, Dhaka wants foreign countries and agencies to bear the expenses of the Rohingya relocation and provide assistance to construct more infrastructures in Bhashan Char to make the remaining two-third areas of the island liveable for the displaced people.

PM’s principal secretary M Tofazzel Hossain Miah placed the proposals at a meeting with the foreign diplomats and representatives stationed in Dhaka, held at the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday.

The representatives from 17 countries and agencies, including Australia, United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and UNHCR attended meeting.

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

About the first proposal, he said that housing for one lakh people was built in Bhasan Char and only 30,000 people have so far been moved there.

‘Now we want to shift 70,000 more people to the place, which is an expensive matter. We ask the friendly countries who work with us to bear the cost of taking these people from Cox’s Bazar to Bhashan Char. The prime minister seriously wants it,’ he added.

Talking about the second proposal, Tofazzel said that only one-third of land of the Bhashan Char was used (for infrastructure to house one lakh Rohingya) and now the prime minister wanted the infrastructures to be constructed in the remaining two-third land and more Rohingyas to be taken there.

‘So, Bangladesh has sought assistance (from foreign friends) to construct new infrastructures,’ 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.

The principal secretary said that Rohingya people would get better life and livelihood in Bhashan Char as they got 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 were brought to the mainland camps to meet their relatives in Cox’s Bazar regularly.

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

Noting that the fund to conduct humanitarian activities for Rohingyas is not being received as per commitment of the donors, Tofazzel said that Bangladesh received some US$ 586 million which was 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 said that the government spent some Tk 3,100 crore only to prepare Bhashan Char.

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, Chargés 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 PMO, were present in the meeting.

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