Rohingya relocation with UN funding: Govt

The Bangladesh government is highly unlikely to extend support to the UN agencies for collecting funds for Rohingya people next year unless they include in their plans the provision of partial relocation of the members of the community to Bhasanchar. The government informed this to the UN agencies in a meeting of the national task force on Rohingya crisis on Thursday at the foreign ministry in Dhaka.

The Bangladesh government ‘may not join’ the meetings organised by the UN agencies to finalise the multiparty Joint Response Plan 2020 meant to aid Rohingya people unless an appropriate and specific plan and allocation of funds to support the relocation step are incorporated in the JRP, a senior Bangladesh official told New Age after the meeting.

Foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque presided over the task force meeting. A $877-million Joint Response Plan is expected to be finalised for 2020 by multiple international actors in January next year with a diminishing trend in the fund compared to the two previous JRPs.

The UN agencies received about US$620 million as humanitarian support from the international community so far this year, 67 per cent of the total commitment of US$920 million under the 2019 JRP steered by the UN, UNHCR and IOM to deliver protection, provide life-saving assistance and foster social cohesion.

‘Challenges remain,’ according to the mid-term report of the 2019 JRP as the forcibly displaced Rohingya people ‘are still dependent on aid and uncertain about their futures’. The UN agencies had received about 70 per cent of the total commitment of US$952 million under the 2018 JRP.

The foreign secretary informed the meeting about the recent proceedings at the International Court of Justice of the UN involving atrocity crimes, including genocide committed by the Myanmar forces against Rohingya people in Rakhine state. UNHCR, IOM, WFP, UNICEF and UNFPA officials in Dhaka and representatives of different government agencies were present in the meeting.

The UN agencies collect funds from donor countries and agencies by holding ‘pledging conferences’ on the Rohingya humanitarian crisis in presence of a Bangladesh delegation. UN officials have been asking the Bangladesh authorities time and again not to rush for relocating Rohingya people to Bhasanchar without holding a feasibility study with the UN for technical, humanitarian and security assessments in this regard.

More than 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh after fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by the Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning from August 25, 2017.

The ongoing Rohingya influx has raised the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees from that country in Bangladesh to about 11,16,000, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry. Not a single Rohingya person returned to Rakhine even after the two countries signed three agreements to facilitate the repatriation process under UN supervision.