United Nations started registering Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Vastavam web: The United Nations and the Bangladesh government have started formally registering hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who have fled a military crackdown in Myanmar, a move that officials say would help their eventual return.More than 700,000 mostly Muslim Rohingya have escaped Buddhist-majority Myanmar since last August, when attacks by Muslim insurgents triggered a military offensive that the United Nations has likened to ethnic cleansing. Myanmar denies the accusations and has said it waged a legitimate counter-insurgency operation.

That data, expected to be ready by November, will have family and birth details of refugees, and will be shared with Myanmar, said Abul Kalam, Bangladesh’s refugee relief and repatriation commissioner. “This will aid the repatriation process,” Kalam said, stressing that any returns would be safe and voluntary.Dozens of refugees queued up at a UNHCR office at the Nayapara camp, which overlooks the Myanmar border, providing fingerprints, iris scans and other information to officials.

Many refugees have reported killings, arson and rape by Myanmar security forces and Buddhist vigilantes, and say they will not return unless they are granted citizenship in Myanmar. The UNHCR said last month conditions were not yet safe for Rohingya to return.A senior Myanmar official has told Western diplomats that a proposal to review a citizenship law that effectively renders most Rohingya Muslims stateless could not be implemented, five people present at a meeting in Denmark in early June told.“This is important for the refugees to get access to basic services,” UNHCR’s Gluck said. “Aid agencies need to know how many people are in the population and require assistance.”

Refugees have many questions about the programme, some officials on the ground said. Nur Hashim, another refugee, wondered why the cards did not list his identity as Rohingya. “They told me UNHCR refugee registration cards don’t mention ethnicity anywhere in the world,” he said.Bangladesh officials have expressed doubts about Myanmar’s willingness to take back the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in Myanmar.