Rohingyas: a burden Bangladesh can ill afford

9 June, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Quoting a former minister for expatriate welfare, the lead story of this daily yesterday said that before April last year 250 thousand Rohingyas – one-fourth of the total – have gone abroad with Bangladeshi passports obtained illegally. If the number of Rohingyas who might have left Bangladesh in the same process in the subsequent period is added, the figure is sure to become a staggering one. The authorities in charge of safekeeping the Rohingyas surely have a database of these Myanmar citizens. They stand accountable about as to how these Rohingyas have fled the camps, how many remain now and those missing? The daily sun report has an answer: The government holds no data on the exact number of such Rohingyas.

Such an unacceptable development is a matter of grave concern for us on several counts. The incident of high number of Rohingyas fleeing the camps exposes serious inefficiency of the authorities concerned and a yawning gap in the security system there. If the process continues unabated, the fast decline in the number of the Rohingyas will be evident to all soon. In that case Bangladesh will find it difficult to establish its claim about the number of Rohingyas that entered the country.

The Bangladeshi passport-holding Rohingyas – spread over different parts of the world and also involved in different crimes including militancy – pose a serious threat to our national security and image.

It is impossible for these Myanmar nationals to obtain Bangladeshi passports without the abetment of local officials. We understand that many domestic and foreign syndicates comprising of law enforcement personnel, politicians and influential brokers as well as some dishonest administrative officials are involved in getting them the passports and sending them abroad to make quick money.

The stakes for Bangladesh in this situation are enormously high. The country will face multiple problems including their repatriation back to Mynamar. Strict measures should be taken in earnest to stop issuance of any kind of travel document and illegal travel to other countries using Bangladeshi passports.