UNHCR cancels World Refugee Day programme in Bangladesh
Dhaka: The Dhaka office of the UNHCR has canceled the World Refugee Day event for urban refugees, mostly Burmese. The reason for the cancellation was that there would not be any activities (performances) from the urban refugee community, according to a telephone message from the UNHCR to the refugees.
A Burmese refugee said “We received a telephonic message from Dhaka UNHCR on Monday saying that the UNHCR has canceled the World Refugee Day programme for urban refugees.”
The UNHCR Dhaka office was to hold the World Refugee Day for urban refugees at the Raowa conference room, VIP Road, Mohakhali Dhaka, from 9 am to 1.30 pm, on June 21.
The UNHCR invited all urban refugees to attend the ceremony. The UNHCR also promised to provide 1000 Taka as traveling expenses to a refugee if he/she comes to Dhaka from the rural areas of Bangladesh. But for refugees in Dhaka, the UNHCR was to provide 70 Taka each.
“We were preparing to attend the refugee day ceremony in Dhaka but we just postponed our travel plans to Dhaka after the UNHCR cancellation the programme. I think there is something serious behind the cancellation of the World Refugee Day programme by the UNHCR but I do not know the details,” the refugee said.
However, the UNHCR will distribute sanitary gifts to women refugees who are over 12 years old. T-shirts will also be distributed to urban refugees on the day.
Even though the UNHCR Dhaka office canceled the world refugee day programme for urban refugees it will hold the biggest world refugee day programme for Burmese Muslim refugees (Rohingya) at two refugee camps located at Cox’s Bazaar district in Bangladesh.
The relation between UNHCR Dhaka office and urban refugees is not very smooth at present due to what Burmese refugees call the discrimination practiced by UNHCR Dhaka office against Burmese urban refugees.
“I heard that the UNHCR Dhaka office canceled the World Refugee Day programme after receiving secret information that urban refugees plan to boycott the programme by not attending. So the UNHCR authorities canceled the programme because it was pointless to hold it without refugees,” said U Tun Kyaw, a Burmese refugee.
The palpable tension between UNHCR and urban refugees has increased after the UNHCR stopped the subsistence allowance to newly recognized refugees for six months. The UNHCR has also not come up with resettlement programmes for urban refugees despite many camp refugees having the chance to resettle in third countries.