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.”


Arsenal’s Ozil condemns Muslim silence over Uighurs

Updated 25 min 30 sec ago

Arsenal’s Ozil condemns Muslim silence over Uighurs

  • China has faced growing international condemnation for setting up a vast network of camps in Xinjiang aimed at homogenizing the Uighur population
  • Turkey is home to an Uighur community and has regularly raised concerns about the situation in Xinjiang

ISTANBUL: Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, a German footballer of Turkish origin, on Friday expressed support for Uighurs in Xinjiang and criticized Muslim countries for their failure to speak up for them.
“Qur’ans are being burnt... Mosques are being shut down ... Muslim schools are being banned ... Religious scholars are being killed one by one ... Brothers are forcefully being sent to camps,” Ozil wrote in Turkish on his Twitter account.
“The Muslims are silent. Their voice is not heard,” he wrote on a background of a blue field with a white crescent moon, the flag of what Uighur separatists call East Turkestan.
China has faced growing international condemnation for setting up a vast network of camps in Xinjiang aimed at homogenizing the Uighur population to reflect China’s majority Han culture.
Rights groups and experts say more than one million Uighurs and people of other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities have been rounded up in the camps in the tightly-controlled region.
After initially denying the camps, China describes them as vocational schools aimed at dampening the allure of extremism and violence.
Turkey, which takes its name from Turkic people who migrated from central Asia, is home to an Uighur community and has regularly raised concerns about the situation in Xinjiang.
In his tweet, Ozil said Western states and media had kept the Uighurs issue on their agenda and added: “what will be remembered years later would not be the torture by the tyrants but the silence of their Muslim brothers.”
The 31-year-old footballer, sparked controversy last year when he was photographed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, raising questions about his loyalty to Germany on the eve of their 2018 World Cup campaign.
Ozil later quit the national squad, accusing German football officials of racism. Erdogan was Ozil’s best man when the footballer was married in Istanbul this year.