US expresses concern over relocation of Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char | The Daily Star
10:04 PM, December 10, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:07 PM, December 10, 2020

US expresses concern over relocation of Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char

The US has expressed concern on the relocation of 1,642 Rohingyas to Bhasan Char.

"The United States concurs with the UN that any such relocations must be fully voluntary and based on informed consent without pressure or coercion. Bangladesh has stated that Rohingya refugees may return to camps on the mainland if they choose," Cale Brown, principal deputy spokesperson at the US Department of State, said in a statement today.

Bangladesh government has said the housing facility in Bhasan Char has flood embankment, cyclone shelters, schools, hospitals, playground, livelihood options and is a much safer place than that in the Cox's Bazar refugee camps where conflicts between locals and refugees and within refugee communities have increased.

The US said it appreciates Bangladesh's hosting of nearly a million Rohingya refugees that gained global accolade. But at the same time Bangladesh government needs to demonstrate respect for human rights of refugees in Bhasan Char including freedom of movement, by facilitating refugees' ability to move to and from Cox's Bazar.

Refugees on Bhasan Char should have access to livelihoods and basic services, such as education and health care, Brown said.

With the UN and likeminded donors, the US has asked for Bangladesh to accept the UN's offer of thorough and independent technical and protection assessments to determine the safety, feasibility, and desirability of relocating refugees there, he said.

The US also calls again upon Myanmar to create conditions conducive for Rohingya refugees' voluntary, safe, and dignified return.

"We are coordinating closely with the international community, in consultation with affected communities, to promote such efforts," Brown said.

"We encourage the government of Bangladesh to continue coordinating with the international community to ensure funding for this crisis response and to work toward durable solutions in a manner that is consistent with international norms and respects the human rights of each individual," Brown added.

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