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.”


Spain: Storm death toll up to 7, major river floods feared

Updated 7 min 27 sec ago

Spain: Storm death toll up to 7, major river floods feared

MADRID: Three more people have died as a result of a fierce storm that has battered Spain for the past three days, authorities said Wednesday, raising the death toll to seven.
Fears increased that heavy rains expected later Wednesday could lead to several swollen rivers breaking their banks, among them the Onyar river that flows through the northeastern city of Gerona .
The body of a missing man was found Wednesday in a flooded area near the town of Callosa, in southeastern Spain, the local Valencia regional government said.
It added that a woman was killed when her apartment building partially collapsed in the town of Alcoy, following heavy rains.
In the southeastern town of Nijar, a farmer was found dead in a plastic greenhouse that had been hit by a hail storm, according to the private Spanish news agency Europa Press.
Four other people died between Sunday and Tuesday.
Searches continued for several missing people.
Since Sunday, the storm has hit mostly eastern areas of Spain with hail, heavy snow and high winds, while huge waves smashed into towns on the Mediterranean coast and the nearby islands of Mallorca and Menorca.
Weather forecasts said the worst of the storm had passed by Wednesday.
Transport authorities said the bad weather forced the closure of more than 200 roads. Schools canceled classes for more than 5,700 pupils.
Officials in Barcelona said the city’s beaches lost much of their sand due to the high, powerful surf.
Rubén del Campo, spokesman for national weather service AEMET, said he expected that once all data was collected the storm will have been one of the strongest on record. Some areas saw their heaviest rainfall in more than 70 years.