Asia - Pacific

UN, Bangladesh sign deal on Rohingya assistance

UN will extend support on protection, education, livelihoods of growing refugees on Bhasan Char island

SM Najmus Sakib   | 09.10.2021
UN, Bangladesh sign deal on Rohingya assistance

DHAKA, Bangladesh

The Bangladeshi government and UN on Saturday signed a long-awaited deal related to the island of Bhasan Char, agreeing to establish a common protection and policy framework for the Rohingya humanitarian response.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on behalf of UN agencies, according to a statement from UNHCR's Dhaka office.

Bangladesh is hosting around 1.2 million Rohingya in refugee camps in the southern district of Cox’s Bazar who fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state after a brutal military crackdown in August 2017.

Citing overcrowding at the Cox’s Bazar camps, the government started relocating 100,000 Rohingya refugees to the Bhasan Char island last December. It has already relocated some 20,000 refugees there so far.

The Bhasan Char island is located 50 kilometers (31 miles) off the country’s southwestern coast and nearly 193 kilometers (120 miles) south of the capital Dhaka, where the government has constructed 1,400 big cluster houses. Each cluster house is made up of 16 rooms.

The agreement relating to Bhasan Char allows for close cooperation between the government and the UN on services and activities to the benefit of the increasing numbers of Rohingya refugees living on the island, it said.

“These cover key areas of protection, education, skills-training, livelihoods, and health, which will help support the refugees to lead decent lives on the island and better prepare them for sustainable return to Myanmar in the future,” it added.

Prior to signing the deal, the UN held discussions with the Rohingya refugee community in Cox’s Bazar, as well as those already on the island.

UN urges support for Rohingya

The UN encourages the international community to increase its generous support to the humanitarian response, recognizing that the Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Response in Cox’s Bazar is currently less than half-funded for this year, it said.

“This support should continue until refugees are able to return to Myanmar in a safe, voluntary, dignified, and sustainable manner, which remains a shared priority of the UN and Government of Bangladesh, as well as the desire of the Rohingya refugees in the country,” it added.

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