Bangladesh authorities and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHRC) have collected biometric details of over five lakh Rohingya refugees taking shelter in Cox’s Bazar, many of whom had fled Myanmar in 2017.
The new registration cards indicate that Myanmar is the country of origin, a critical element in establishing and safeguarding the right of Rohingya refugees to return to their homes in Myanmar, if and when they decide the time is right for them to do so,” United Nations Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson, Andrej Mahecic said in a statement issued on Friday.
Many in Northeast India said biometric identity cards issued to the refugees would help security agencies to avoid confusion when they detain Rohingya refugees in Indian soil. Confusion prevailed over the identity of Rohingya refugees after they were detained by BSF personnel in Tripura and Assam. “While most of them claimed to be refugees taking shelter in India, security agencies suspected them to be the ones from refugee camps in Bangladesh. The biometric cards are likely to remove the confusion now,” a police official here said.
More than 100 Rohingyas were detained in Tripura and Assam in the past few months.
An estimated 900,000 Rohingya refugees live in crowded settlements in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, with over 740,000 thought to have fled from Myanmar since August 2017.
The latest exodus of Rohingya Muslims from the Rakhine state of Myanmar, bordering Bangladesh was triggered by the Myanmar army’s action against a militant group belonging to the Rohingyas.
According to international agencies, Rohingyas have lived in Rakhine state for generations but Myanmar government refuses to accept this, saying they are illegal migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.
The biometric, fraud-proof cards are being issued jointly by Bangladeshi authorities and UNHCR to all verified refugees over the age of 12. The UN refugee agency’s Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS) captures biometric data, including fingerprints and iris scans, which secure each refugee’s unique identity as well as other important information such as family links.
This comprehensive registration, being simultaneously carried out in all refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar – is meant to ensure the accuracy of data on refugees in Bangladesh, giving national authorities and humanitarian partners a better understanding of the population and their needs.
Accurate data will help agencies in their programme planning and help target assistance where it is needed most, particularly for people with specific needs, such as women and children taking care of their families and people with disabilities, said the statement.