The combined results of both the visits will help define future UN activities
Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan: A team of the United Nations is on a second visit to Bhashan Char to continue assessing needs prior to the global body’s operational engagement with the island developed to relocate Rohingyas from Cox’s Bazar.
“This week, a second mission is taking place to continue assessments on additional aspects such as nutrition and education, among others,” Regina De La Portilla, communications officer of the Bangladesh chapter of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told Dhaka Tribune on Monday.
“The combined results will help to define future UN activities and support the government-led humanitarian response on Bhasan Char,” she said.
The second visit of the UN team started on Sunday. The first visit took place from November 1-4.
As asked when the UN would begin working in Bhashan Char, the UNHCR official said: “So far, we have no specific date for the comprehensive start of protection services and activities.
“As crucial needs are identified, the UN will provide support as required.”
On the first visit, Regina De La Portilla said: “A UN team of UNHCR and WFP experts in various areas, including logistics, site management, health and community protection, went to Bhasan Char between November 1 and 4.”
She added: “During this mission, an important step of the operational planning process, the team conducted a series of needs assessments to best identify the protection and humanitarian gaps for refugees, based on consultations with refugees and NGOs already working on the island.”
Bhashan Char Island, which is part of Noakhali district, has been developed by the Bangladesh Navy at a cost of about Tk3,100 crore with the aim of reducing congestion in the Rohingya camps at Cox’s Bazar.
Since early December 2020, nearly 18,000 Rohingyas have been relocated to the island.
Following lengthy wrangling, the UN agreed to operationally engage in Bhashan Char through signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government on October 9.