Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the refugee agency for the UN, stating its satisfaction at the improvement of conditions at Bhasan Char Rohingya refugee camp is a much-awaited alignment between the agency’s position and the Bangladesh government’s strategy in recent years regarding new settlements for the stranded Rohingya population.
The UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees acknowledged the improvement in the conditions and availability of services in Bhasan Char after her recent visit to the char.
This is very significant for the two main reasons: One is the welfare of the Rohingya and the second is that it removes the friction between the Bangladesh government and the UN, as well as other international partners who must work together seamlessly for managing the refugee situation.
The government seemed to have unnecessarily pushed back against UN oversight relating to the Bhasan Char transfer, risking complications in relations with international partners. But the UNHCR being more accepting of the new settlement arrangements will now aid mobilization of international support.
It is a relief to see that the Bangladesh government’s openness — even though late — to UN requirements relating to living conditions has been reciprocated by the Deputy High Commissioner’s statement reiterating the importance of supporting Bangladesh as it continues to host over one million refugees.
The Deputy High Commissioner has asked the international community to stand by the government and people of Bangladesh until the situation in Myanmar allows for a safe, dignified, and sustainable return.
Bangladesh has officially supported voluntary return, but as things stand, any repatriation — voluntary or otherwise — is unlikely in the foreseeable future.
It is therefore doubly important for Bangladesh to work closely together with its international partners, which should include supporting the UN agencies to carry out necessary evaluation