UN, Bangladesh start joint ID verification of Rohingya refugees

In this file photo, Rohingya refugees stage a demonstration in Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on June 16, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 28 June 2018

UN, Bangladesh start joint ID verification of Rohingya refugees

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

DHAKA: 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.”


HK media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

Updated 10 August 2020

HK media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

  • Lai has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing

HONG KONG: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested over suspected collusion with foreign forces under the new national security law, his top aide said on Twitter, in what is the highest-profile arrest yet under the legislation.
Lai has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing, which imposed the sweeping new law on Hong Kong on June 30, drawing condemnation from Western countries.
The new security law punishes anything China considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
Critics say it crushes freedoms in the semiautonomous city, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged pro-democracy protests last year.
“Jimmy Lai is being arrested for collusion with foreign powers at this time,” Mark Simon, a senior executive at Lai’s media company Next Digital, which publishes local tabloid Apple Daily, said early on Monday.
Police did not immediately comment.
Lai was also arrested this year on illegal assembly charges, along with other leading activists, relating to protests last year.
In an interview with Reuters in May, Lai pledged to stay in Hong Kong and continue to fight for democracy even though he expected to be one of the targets of the new legislation.