A UN independent expert has offered several recommendations on the Rohingya community to be provided with security, educational opportunity, access to health care and the creation of sustainable livelihood opportunities, especially in Bashan Char – a remote silt island in the Bay of Bengal where Bangladesh Government has relocated nearly 19,000 Rohingya refugees. Tom Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, said, “Successfully addressing each of these key areas is in the interest, not only of the Rohingya community but of everyone who shares the goal of a successful and sustained repatriation of the Rohingya community back to where they most want to go, home.”
The Special Rapporteur commended Bangladesh for its partnership in accountability measures and noted how critical it was that “the rights and dignity of the Rohingya people be respected, protected and promoted”. “Education will provide Rohingya youth with opportunities that could deter them from negative coping mechanisms, reducing security vulnerabilities in the camps, and reducing security vulnerabilities for all,” he flagged at the end of his first official visit to Bangladesh.
Tom Andrews praised Bangladesh for providing Rohingya refugees with a haven after they have fled atrocity crimes in Myanmar, offering to do all he can to “push for a stronger, more coordinated international response” to the crisis. “I will do everything in my capacity to push for a stronger, more coordinated international response to this crisis, including the imposition of pressure on the Myanmar military and for concrete measures to hold the military junta fully accountable for this crisis,” said the UN expert.
During his mission, the Special Rapporteur met with refugees in Cox’s Bazar as well as those who were relocated to Bhasan Char Island. During his visit to Bashan Char – a remote silt island in the Bay of Bengal where the Government has relocated nearly 19,000 refugees – the Special Rapporteur observed that “considerable resources” had been put into constructing facilities there.
In view of its isolated location, and the nascent humanitarian programming on the island, he urged Bangladesh to “make sure services that can meet the projected needs of the increased population are firmly in place before relocating more refugees, including, especially greater freedom of movement”. The UN expert welcomed the commitments made by Bangladesh in the Memorandum of Understanding with the UN and urged that “they be put into practice”. Tom Andrews upheld that the international community has a responsibility to support the Rohingya, arguing that Bangladesh cannot and should not shoulder the responsibility alone.
Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, is one of the largest in the world. and hosts hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas who fled violence in Myanmar.
Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary, and the experts are not paid for their work.