The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recognizes the potential that Bhasan Char could provide as an alternative temporary location for some Rohingya refugees while in Bangladesh.
The refugee agency of the global body has proposed further discussions with the government to ensure the protection of refugees, as well as on our future operational engagement on the island, said a press release issued by UNHCR Bangladesh on Wednesday night.
UNHCR Assistant High Commissioners for Protection and for Operations – Gillian Triggs and Raouf Mazou – wrapped up their four-day visit to Bangladesh on Wednesday.
They called for international support and solidarity with Rohingya refugees and Bangladesh, said the release.
The protection, well-being, and concerns of refugees, as well as renewed efforts towards solutions, should be at the forefront of the response, they said.
The assistant high commissioners have emphasized that the responsibility for the current Rohingya refugee situation in Bangladesh rests with Myanmar, and that is where the solution lies.
However, the recent developments in Myanmar make the prospects of voluntary repatriation in the short term more challenging, they noted..
“Bhasan Char has some potential, though the human and protection elements of refugees living there must be fully considered. Refugees who decide to relocate to Bhasan Char must do so on a voluntary basis. They should have freedom of movement on the island and must be granted the possibility to return to Cox’s Bazar and to maintain family connections with those in the camps,” said Triggs.
While on Bhasan Char, the two officials had the opportunity to talk to a large group of refugees, predominantly young men. They raised their concerns about the lack of access to livelihoods and self-reliance opportunities, skills development, as well as access to education.