Representatives of the international community supporting the Rohingya in Bangladesh on Thursday reiterated certain reservation about shifting the Myanmar nationals to coastal land of Bhasan Char from camps in Cox’s Bazar.
During a two-day visit to Rohingya camps on Wednesday-Thursday, they recommended safe reopening of the learning centres since their closure led to “increase in hopelessness among refugees, violence against children, and increased rates of child marriage and labour”, according to a UN Information Centre release.
US Ambassador Earl Miller mentioned that the Rohingya crisis remains an important priority for the United States “just as it is for Bangladesh and our other international partners”.
“We continue working toward solutions and the safe, voluntary, and dignified repatriation of refugees to Myanmar,” he said adding that since 2017, the US has contributed nearly $800 million to support the humanitarian efforts in Cox’s Bazar.
The delegation of the donors, who provided two thirds of the total global funding to the Rohingya response, reiterated their support to Bangladesh for giving shelter to the Myanmar people persecuted at home.
“After months of necessary Covid-19 restrictions, we are here with our partners to reaffirm our solidarity with Bangladesh and support for the Rohingya refugees and the communities generously hosting them,” said Mia Seppo, the United Nations Resident Coordinator.
She added, “We have 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.”
The delegation assured the Bangladesh officials of their unwavering commitment to support the Rohingya refugee response and affected Bangladeshis communities, said the release.
“We have been with Bangladesh since the early days of this crisis and will continue to scale up development assistance to Cox’s Bazar, having already provided more than half a billion dollars in grants. This crisis cannot and will not be forgotten,” said World Bank Country Director, Mercy Tembon.
Dwelling on the Bhasan Char project, the European Union Ambassador Rensje Teerink said, “While the first recent “go and see” 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,”
Members of the delegation agreed that returns of the Rohingya must be voluntary, safe and dignified. They reiterated that the solution to the crisis lies in Myanmar and that root causes of the crisis must 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 insisted.
The refugees shared with the delegation how the Covid-19 situation is impacting their daily lives and how they see the future.
“Refugees have continued to play a critical role in helping their own communities protect themselves against Covid-19. They are the backbone of the response and their contributions should be fully recognised,” said Canada’s Head of Humanitarian Aid, Phedra Moon Morris.
The delegation observed efforts to keep the camps and surrounding areas safe and secure in Cox’s Bazar.
“With any additional and necessary measures, we encourage full humanitarian access be maintained to the camps and that consultations with affected communities continue to take place,” said British High Commissioner, Robert Chatterton Dickson.