UN, Bangladesh start joint ID verification of Rohingya refugees


29 June 2018|16 Shawaal 1439|Arab News

Bangladesh’s government and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have jointly launched an identity verification process for Rohingya refugees living in camps in Cox’s Bazar.

The process is expected to last six months and use biometric data, including iris scans and fingerprints, to confirm people’s identities, said the UNHCR.

“This exercise is a major step forward to establish the legal identity of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar,” said Kevin Allen, head of operations for the UNHCR in Cox’s Bazar.

“It makes clear that the Rohingya exist, that their rights must be respected, and that we are committed to laying the foundations for solutions.”

All refugees older than 12 years will get ID cards after their identities are verified, said Bangladeshi officials.
Some 150 UN and Bangladeshi government field workers are engaged in the verification process.

“We’ll use this database for better planning of aid management, and it’ll help aid agencies and Bangladesh’s government,” Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammad Abul Kalam told Arab News.

“It’ll help in avoiding service duplication, and ensure that every registered family and all verified people receive necessary aid.”

In November 2017, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a deal to start repatriating Rohingya refugees by Jan. 22, but Myanmar officials made identity verification a precondition.

“After this UN database, Myanmar’s government won’t get the chance to delay repatriation in the name of verification,” said Rashid Khan, a refugee in Balukhali camp.

More than 1.1 million Rohingya refugees live in makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

“Verification is an important milestone in contributing to securing the identity of persons who have fled from Myanmar and are now being generously hosted in Bangladesh,” the UNHCR said.

Abul Kalam said: “The repatriation process will continue as agreed. Joint verification will go on. The UNHCR will manage the database and correct any mistakes.”