UN of­fi­cial wel­comes Ro­hingya re­lo­ca­tion plan

wel­comes Ro­hingya re­lo­ca­tion plan

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

Ase­nior UN of­fi­cial has wel­comed Bangladesh's plan to move Ro­hingya refugees out of the coun­try's con­gested camps, but said any move to trans­fer some 100,000 of them to a flood-prone is­land should be vol­un­tary.

Volker Turk, an as­sis­tant high com­mis­sioner at the UN's refugee agency, said last week that the south­east Ku­tu­pa­long camp, the world's largest and now home to some 600,000 Ro­hingya refugees who have fled neigh­bor­ing Myan­mar, is highly over­crowded.

"If you have been in Ku­tu­pa­long or var­i­ous camps in Cox's Bazar area, it is clear that there is huge con­ges­tion," the UNHCR of­fi­cial told re­porters in Dhaka af­ter con­clud­ing a five-day visit to the coun­try.

"So we wel­come the fact that the govern­ment of Bangladesh has taken very ac­tive steps to iden­tify al­ter­na­tive set­tle­ment (for the Ro­hingya refugees)," he said. He added that the UN was still in "dis­cus­sion" with the Bangladesh­i au­thor­i­ties about the re­lo­ca­tion of refugees to the is­land of Bhashan Char, in the Bay of Ben­gal, but said refugees must be will­ing to move and be able to con­tinue their "liveli­hood" there.

In­ter­na­tional aid agencies in­clud­ing a UN rap­por­teur in Jan­uary have raised con­cerns about the is­land's abil­ity to with­stand vi­o­lent storms dur­ing the mon­soon. Hun­dreds of thou­sands have died in Bangladesh from cy­clones in the last 50 years, mostly in coastal ar­eas.

A se­nior Bangladesh­i min­is­ter last week said mov­ing refugees to the re­mote is­land, which is an hour away by boat from the main­land, will start from next month as the ma­jor­ity of the con­struc­tion work has fin­ished.

Dhaka has spent some $280 mil­lion trans­form­ing the muddy silt islet that only emerged nearly two decades ago. Lo­cal of­fi­cials said they will keep out tidal surges in the event of a cy­clone.

Photo: EPA

Rakhine State has seen a vis­its from a num­ber of VIPs - Nor­we­gian Min­is­ter of In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Dag Inge Ul­stein (C) ar­rives at Sit­twe Air­port, Rakhine State, 27 March.

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