Saturday, 25 April 2015

Bangladesh to launch Rohingya head-count to push back into Burma

Source Dhaka Tribune, 26 April

<p>A Rohingya child returns with firewood to a refugee camp in Bangladesh (Photo courtesy of UNHCR)</p>

A Rohingya child returns with firewood to a refugee camp in Bangladesh (Photo courtesy of UNHCR)

The government has decided to start counting the Rohingya refugees of Myanmar living across the country from mid-September for proper documentation, official sources said.

The documentation would also help expediting repatriation of the Rohingya Muslims to their homeland.

The decision was made fearing fresh influx of the Rohingyas due to possible deterioration of political condition ahead of the general election in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, likely to be held in November.

The decision and concerns came from the seventh meeting of the National Task-force on Implementation of the National Strategy Paper on Myanmar Refugees and undocumented Myanmar Nationals held at the Foreign Ministry on March 31.

It was arranged by the United Nations wing of the ministry. Representatives of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) informed the meeting about the possible influx.

State Minister for Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday told the Dhaka Tribune: "We have already ordered the BGB to push back Rohingya refugees if they try to enter Bangladesh territory ahead of the national election in November.

"We do not care what the foreign communities will say about our action because the Rohingya refugees are destroying livelihood of the local people and the environment."

He said: "The daily wage rate in Cox's Bazar has declined due to availability of Rohingya refugees as day labourer."

The meeting also decided that the number of police camps would be increased. Moreover, the BGB is carrying out construction of border outposts and observation towers which is likely to be completed by the middle of next year.

According to the meeting, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistic would carry out photo-based listing or census among the undocumented Rohingyas in September for 10-15 days in Cox's Bazar and four other districts.

They have been asked to work in coordination with the Election Commission. The BBS is expected to prepare the preliminary report by January next year.

According to official estimation, there are around 28,000 registered Rohingyas living in two camps in Cox's Bazar. But the number of undocumented Rohingya Muslims is over 5,00,000 and they spread in Chittagong, and the three hill districts.

For the first time since 2005, the Myanmar government last year agreed to take back the registered Rohingyas in phases.

It is alleged that the political influential people in the coastal areas are using Rohingya refugees for illegal yaba trade which has increased criminal and unsocial activities in the country. Moreover, they have been used by Islamist militant groups of Bangladesh and the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation – a separatist group banned in Myanmar.

The home state minister said: "It is necessary to count the Rohingya refugees as many of them have acquired Bangladeshi passports and are allegedly running terrorists dens here."

A large number of undocumented Rohingyas hold Bangladeshi passports and many of them went to the Middle-East countries pretending to be Bangladesh workers.

"Our workers are banned in the UAE because the Rohingyas in disguise were found involved in criminal activities there,"
Kamal said.

"Such incidents are tarnishing the image of Bangladeshi workers in other Middle-East countries. This should be stopped."

In 2007, the Saudi Arabia government deported a number of Rohingyas for their involvement in criminal incidents.

The meeting also discussed that the undocumented Rohingya Muslims living in makeshift settlements were sending their children only to madrasas and mosques for eduction.

The task-force agreed to provide those children with informal education. 

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