European Union (EU) Ambassador to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink has laid emphasis on visits by UN technical and humanitarian protection teams to Bhasan Char though Rohingya leaders recently expressed satisfaction over the situation there.
â€œWhile the first recent â€œgo and seeâ€ visit was a welcome step, it would also be important that the proposed UN technical and protection assessments are also able to proceed, as well as the separate humanitarian and protection visits to assess the situation for the 306 refugees already relocated there,â€ she said.
The government has a plan to begin relocating one lakh Rohingyas to Bhasan Char this year from Cox's Bazar camps.
Representatives of the international community in Bangladesh, including ambassadors of the United States and the European Union, the British high commissioner, the head of Humanitarian Aid of the Canadian High Commission, the country director of the World Bank, and the United Nations resident coordinator, visited Coxâ€™s Bazar and the Rohingya camps on Wednesday and Thursday.
The delegation also spoke to government officials about the Bhasan Char project.
In all their discussions, the members of the delegation assured the authorities of their unwavering commitment to support the Rohingya refugee response and affected Bangladeshis communities.
â€œWeâ€™ve been with Bangladesh since the early days of this crisis and will continue to scale up development assistance to Coxâ€™s Bazar, having already provided more than half a billion dollars in grants. This crisis canâ€™t and wonâ€™t be forgotten,â€ said World Bank Country Director Mercy Tembon.
The delegation commended Bangladeshâ€™s generosity in hosting the Rohingya population and agreed that returns must be voluntary, safe and dignified.
The delegation reiterated that the solution to this crisis lay in Myanmar and that it is required for the root causes of the crisis to be addressed.
Holding perpetrators of the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people in Rakhine state to account would contribute to giving the refugees the confidence to return home, they highlighted.
"After months of necessary Covid-19 restrictions, weâ€™re here with our partners to reaffirm our solidarity with Bangladesh and support for the Rohingya refugees and the communities generously hosting them. Weâ€™ve seen how the decisive action taken by the authorities has slowed the spread of Covid-19, and with the support of the international community, an effective and life-saving response continues,â€ said Mia Seppo, United Nations resident coordinator.
US Ambassador Earl Miller said the Rohingya crisis remains an important priority for the United States just as it is for Bangladesh and our other international partners, and even more so in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since 2017, the United States has contributed nearly $800 million to support humanitarian efforts, including specific funding, to support Bangladesh host communities in Coxâ€™s Bazar district.
Some two-thirds of the total global funding to the Rohingya response has been provided by donor countries on this visit. "At the same time, we continue working toward solutions and the safe, voluntary, and dignified repatriation of refugees to Myanmar.â€
During discussions with the delegation, refugees shared how the Covid-19 situation is impacting their daily lives and how they see the future.
â€œRefugees have continued to play a critical role in helping their own communities protect themselves against Covid-19. Theyâ€™re the backbone of the response and their contributions should be fully recognized,â€ highlighted Canadaâ€™s Head of Humanitarian Aid Phedra Moon Morris.
In the course of their field visits, the delegation visited Severe Acute Respiratory Isolation and Treatment Centres â€“ of which there are now 14 with nearly 1,000 treatment beds â€“set up to treat Covid-19 patients, both Bangladeshis and Rohingya, as well as Covid-19 testing centres.
The delegation also visited temporary learning centres, which have been temporarily closed due to Covid-19, leading to a reported increase in hopelessness among refugees, violence against children, and increased rates of child marriage and labour.
The delegation discussed with the authorities the importance of the safe reopening of these and other facilities in a phased manner.
The delegation also discussed and observed efforts to keep the camps and surrounding areas safe and secure in Coxâ€™s Bazar.
â€œThe authorities continue to play an absolutely critical role in ensuring the safety and security of the Rohingya settlements and the host communities,â€ said British High Commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson.
With any additional and necessary measures, he said they encouraged full humanitarian access needs to be maintained to the camps and that consultations with affected communities continue to take place.