NAYAPARA REFUGEE CAMP, Bangladesh (Reuters) – The United Nations and the Bangladesh government have started formally registering hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who have fled a military crackdown in Myanmar, a move that officials say would help their eventual return.
More than 700,000 mostly Muslim Rohingya have escaped Buddhist-majority Myanmar since last August, when attacks by Muslim insurgents triggered a military offensive that the United Nations has likened to ethnic cleansing. Myanmar denies the accusations and has said it waged a legitimate counter-insurgency operation.
The registration program started jointly by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Bangladesh government this week is aimed at creating a reliable database of refugees living in camps on Bangladesh’s southern coast, said Caroline Gluck, a UNHCR representative.
That data, expected to be ready by November, will have family and birth details of refugees, and will be shared with Myanmar, said Abul Kalam, Bangladesh’s refugee relief and repatriation commissioner. “This will aid the repatriation process,” Kalam said, stressing that any returns would be safe and voluntary.