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Bangladesh pledges to document Rohingyas

Photo :Nayapara refugee camp

By Mizan Rahman/Dhaka
February 14, 2014

Bangladesh has decided to document Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Myanmar as they pose a serious threat to the country’s security, according to a senior official in Dhaka.

The state-run Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics is set to conduct a survey to profile undocumented Rohingyas living in the country.

“Many undocumented Rohingyas are living in Bangladesh and we need to have their profiling due to security reason,” foreign secretary Md Shahidul Haque said.

Rohingyas, the Myanmar nationals, had started to come to Bangladesh since their first influx in late 1970s following sectarian violence in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, close to 
Bangladesh border.

Bangladesh now hosts 30,000 refugees in Cox’s Bazar camps, and in addition to the number, about half a million undocumented Rohingyas are residing in other parts of the country, “posing serious threat to security, environment and society in the country.”

The foreign secretary said the Rohingya problem was created by Myanmar and it must be solved by the country.

The foreign ministry organised a meeting to brief foreign diplomats on the national strategy about the undocumented Rohingyas in Bangladesh, officials attending the meeting said yesterday.

Ambassadors from the US, India, Saudi Arabia, European Union, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Canada, France, Australia and United Kingdom and officials from different UN offices took part in the meeting.

EU ambassador William Hanna said the Union is concerned about the plight of Rohingyas.

He said it is very useful to have a comprehensive strategy to solve the problem.

He suggested that it should be a very useful idea to disseminate the national strategy to international partners to let everybody know what Bangladesh is doing.

An official of the foreign ministry said: “Many ambassadors put forward the idea that addressing the nationality problems of Rohingyas is the solution to everything.”

Dhaka wants to contribute to socio-economic development of the Rakhine state to create an environment for voluntary return of the Myanmar nationals residing in Bangladesh, he said.

“Bangladesh had been providing humanitarian assistance to Rohingya refugees for over 30 years and it was committed to do so,” he said, adding: “But the country is overburdened with the problems as it has a very limited capacity.”

A high US official visiting Dhaka last week hinted that the United States might take some Rohingyas and give them political asylum there.