UN signs deal with Bangladesh to provide basic services to Rohingya refugees in Bhasan Char island

Bangladesh has signed a deal with a UN refugee agency to help provide basic services to Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh’s Bhasan Char, an isolated island currently housing around 19,000 Myanmar refugees

Oct 10, 2021
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Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has signed a deal with a UN refugee agency to help provide basic services to Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh’s Bhasan Char, an isolated island currently housing around 19,000 Myanmar refugees.

The agreement came almost six months after officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) visited the island in April and took stock of facilities and conditions there. A report later indicated the officials were satisfied with the facilities there despite protests forms some rights groups. [Read more] 

The Bangladeshi government has shifted around 19,000 Rohingya refugees to crowded camps of Cox Bazaar--most of them are prone to landslides, flooding, and fire-- which are housing over a million refugees there. Authorities plan to shift around 100,000 people--around 10 percent of the total refugee population--in Bhasan Char camps to decongest Cox Bazaar areas.

On Saturday, the UNHCR said the agreement signed on Saturday allowed for close cooperation with the government on providing services for the island's growing refugee population.

"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," the UN agency said in a statement. 

In the next three months, about 81,000 Rohingya should be living on the island within three months, Mohammad Mohsin, a senior official at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, was quoted as saying by Reuters. 

A section of people on the island has earlier complained to the UN agency about the lack of options to earn livelihood there. Through the agreement, officials believe these problems and many others would be resolved to a great extent. 

Despite concerns from some groups about the safety and suitability of the island for accommodating refugees, living conditions, including safety environment, is much better in comparison to those in Cox Bazaar. Anti cyclone and flooding measures put on the island have also proved effective over the period.

(SAM)