Following registration, the new refugees will also be put into a new camp on 2,000 acres of land at Cox's Bazar's Kutupalong area
Bangladesh will introduce special identity cards for the new Rohingyas amid concern that the refuge seekers have started to scatter across the country.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal made the revelation on Sunday after a meeting at the Secretariat on the humanitarian issues and possible security concerns due to the ongoing Rohingya influx from Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
He told reporters: “We’ve decided to open a new camp on 2,000 acres of land in Cox’s Bazar’s Kutupalong area. The camp will be divided into seven blocks and have barbwire fencing to prevent any kind of security deterioration.”
“The public administration ministry in this regard has already appointed seven deputy secretaries, one for each of these blocks,” he said.
He added: “The refugees will have to go through a registration process which will make them eligible for obtaining the special ID cards.”
The minister said the process to set up the new camp and Rohingya registration will begin from Monday. “But if needed, we will allot more land to accommodate the refugees,” he further said.
While visiting refugee camps on Saturday, Secretary of the Disaster Management and Relief Ministry Shah Kamal first had told reporters about the government’s decision to allot 2,000 acres of forestland for the new camp.
An initiative to make a biometric database of the Rohingyas has been taken, he had said. “Their number is increasing every day. That is why we have allotted the land to keep them in one place.”
Additional District Magistrate of Cox’s Bazar Khaled Mahmud said: “The Passport Directorate has also been assigned to make a list of the refugees with their names, personal details, photos and fingerprints as soon as possible.”
The home minister on Sunday also said that police, Ansar and Village Defence Party (VDP) will be posted at the new camp to maintain security.
Since August 25, when Rohingya insurgents attacked nine police posts and an army base in Rakhine and reportedly killed several security personnel, approximately 300,000 Rohingyas have fled the fresh spell of violence there and entered Bangladesh, he said.
“But the number is still growing. They are coming to our country as we are the nearest one where they will be safer. Our border guards and coast guard are trying to stop the infiltration, but that is not enough,” he added.
“However, they are also allowing many to enter on humanitarian grounds. The injured and ailing refugees are being given medical treatment,” he further said.
The minister said: “Once we finish the registration process, we’ll be able to tell how many Rohingyas have come.”
He said the international humanitarian organisations, including UNHCR and IOM, and the ministries concerned will work together in this initiative.
“The Disaster Management and Relief Ministry will oversee aid distribution in the new camp. The deputy commissioner of Cox’s Bazar district will monitor the whole operation and maintain communication will all organisations involved,” the minister also said.
He, however, added that only registered Rohingya refugees in this camp will receive all necessary aid. “Preventative measures will be in place to stop anyone from using fake IDs or taking advantage of the situation for their benefit.”
In the past two weeks, hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have fled into Bangladesh in the face of the crackdown by the Myanmar army that started after the August 25 attacks. Hundreds of homes in Rohingya villages have been burned and more than 400 people killed.
Since then, after crossing the border at numerous points, a large number of Rohingyas have reportedly spread into many areas in Bangladesh, which Minister Kamal also somewhat admitted on Sunday.
“But this initiative aims to stop that. We’ll not allow any refugees without the special IDs roam free,” he said.
He added that an alert will also be issued at all bus and train stations, river routes and airports to prevent refugees from scattering around the country. “Any extremist elements trying to infiltrate our borders will face immediate action.”
Considering security issues, he also urged the locals in Bangladesh border areas to carry their National Identity Cards when they are moving about.
The chiefs of police, Rapid Action Battalion, Border Guard Bangladesh, Ansar and VDP, Coast Guard, Fire Service and Civil Defence, and other high officials of the government were present at Sunday’s meeting.