Bangladesh briefs diplomats on Rohingya census

The government has briefed foreign diplomats based in Dhaka on the ongoing Rohingya census undertaken by Bangladesh.

Published : 20 June 2016, 02:44 PM
Updated : 20 June 2016, 04:36 PM

Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque told journalists after the briefing on Monday at the state guest house, Padma, that he, along with the secretary of the statistics division, had updated the envoys.

Diplomats from European, American and Southeast Asian countries were present at the briefing.

The government recently concluded the first-ever census of the undocumented Myanmar nationals living in Bangladesh.

The survey was done in Cox’s Bazar, Bandarban, Patuakhali, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Khagrhachharhi and Chittagong.

The foreign secretary said a clear picture of the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals living in Bangladesh would soon emerge.

Estimates suggest about half a million of them currently live in Bangladesh.

They fled persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. The Myanmar authorities have refused to acknowledge their nationality, leaving the issue as an irritant in Bangladesh-Myanmar relations.

Bangladesh, however, recently resorted to public diplomacy in its efforts to narrow down the decades-old gap in understanding, keeping the refugee issue aside for the time being.

It is felt that relations with the new democratic dispensation in Myanmar are of strategic importance, with the country serving as a gateway to China and the ASEAN economies, besides being a potential supplier of natural gas.

The Bangladesh foreign secretary is expected to visit Myanmar sometime this month.