Authorities in Bangladesh began a survey to determine the number of Rohingya Muslims who have fled persecution in majority-Buddhist Myanmar.
About 33,000 Rohingya have been documented in two official camps in the southern coastal district of Cox’s Bazar that borders Myanmar, but officials say another 300,000 to 500,000 remain unaccounted, the Associated Press reported.
Bangladesh’s Bureau of Statistics began the exercise this week with the help of the Geneva-based International Organization of Migration, said survey director Alamgir Hossain. He said the survey across six districts will end on Feb. 17 and will be followed by a census of the Rohingya next month.
The census will also focus on the living conditions and socio-economic status of the Rohingya and the information gathered will be used to create a community database.
The Rohingya, many of whose families arrived in Myanmar generations ago, are treated as illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh and virtually excluded from the political process. In Myanmar, they are subjected to forced labor, have no land rights, and are heavily restricted in movement. In Bangladesh many are also desperately poor, with no documents or job prospects.