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Saturday, November 14, 2020

Human rights group to govt: Facilitate a visit to Bhasan Char

Dhaka Tribune 
Tribune Desk
November 12th, 2020
File photo: Forcibly displaced Rohingya refugees playing football at a refugee camp in Bhashan Char ISPR
 

The government is moving forward with plans to relocate up to 100,000 Rohingya from Cox’s Bazar district to Bhasan Char

Five human rights organization have requested the government of Bangladesh to facilitate and provide access to Bhasan Char, including unfettered access to meet with Rohingyas.

The five organizations are Amnesty International, Refugees International, Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, Fortify Rights, and ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).

"Bangladesh faces enormous pressure in hosting refugees, but relocating Rohingya to Bhasan Char puts their lives in danger even more. Authorities should cooperate with the UN and international human rights organizations to ensure that refugees currently detained there can be reunited with their families in the camps, and be provided with protection and access to basic services,” Santiago added.

Also read - UK: New Myanmar govt must address concerns in Rakhine, ensure Rohingya repatriation 
 
Earlier on September 5, a group of 40 Rohingya representatives including Majhis visited the island on a “go and see” visit from camps in mainland Cox’s Bazar district to see the facilities and the situation on the island.


Moreover, during a webinar on August 24, the government also commented that they may also arrange the visit of human rights groups and select media to appreciate the facilities created.

Following the comment, the organizations have requested for access Bhasan Char to conduct a joint assessment of the facilities and conditions for those on the island, at the earliest convenience.

The letter

“We recognize the efforts made by the government to respond to concerns raised by the United Nations, humanitarian aid agencies, human rights groups, and Rohingya refugees in regards to the facilities and conditions for refugees on the island and whether they meet international humanitarian and human rights standards,” the organizations said in the letter.

The letter was signed by David Griffiths, director of the Office of the Secretary General, Amnesty International; Eric Schwartz, president, Refugees International; Kerry Kennedy, president, Robert F Kennedy Human Rights; Matthew Smith, chief executive officer, Fortify Rights, and Teddy Baguilat, executive director, APHR.

They also acknowledged the government’s efforts to provide humanitarian assistance and emergency shelter to more than one million Rohingyas who fled brutal attacks by Myanmar authorities in 2016 and 2017 as well as Bangladesh’s role in providing shelter and support to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who previously fled persecution in Myanmar.

More than 300 Rohingyas are currently being housed on Bhasan Char and the government is moving forward with plans to relocate up to 100,000 Rohingya from Cox’s Bazar district to Bhasan Char after the monsoon season.

The organizations hope to provide the government with both public and private recommendations and welcome the opportunity to assist and support the administration to ensure the protection of Rohingyas, the letter added.

The organizations made the request by sending a letter to Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on September 21, which was publicly released on APHR’s official website on Thursday.

The request included a timely access for a United Nations protection team, as well as for a United Nations-led technical team, to review the sustainability and environmental conditions on the island.

Malaysian MP and APHR Board Chair Charles Santiago said: “There is an urgent need for the Bangladeshi government to allow a visit by human rights groups to the island to assess the facilities and meet with refugees."

“It is hard to believe that the conditions on Bhasan Char are habitable or safe when Rohingyas claim to be trapped without their families in jail-like conditions, alleging mistreatment by authorities. The island is also at risk of being flooded and struck by cyclones, while refugees there report inadequate access to food, water, and medical care."


Link : Here

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