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Any error in personal data during registration of Rohingya would be a strategic mistake and fatal

By Mohammed Ayub (UAE)
RB Opinion
October 2, 2017

Since 25th August, Myanmar has inhumanly expelled more than half a million Rohingya into neighbouring Bangladesh, under the pretext of fighting Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. Government of Bangladesh and her public have shown incredible humanity in the history by opening their arms and doors for those Rohingya. The international community has expressed their heartfelt gratitude for the generosity and humanly services rendered by the Bangladesh towards Rohingyas. The Khaleej Times, a leading daily newspaper of UAE, on September 30 honoured Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as “New Star of the East”.

At all or any cost, Bangladesh is not permanent home for Rohingya. The leadership of Bangladesh in co-operation with United Nations, Myanmar and other stakeholders in finding a permanent solution for the crisis is only way forward. Once a framework for the permanent solution is established, Rohingya have to be sent back to their original home with human dignity. In the meantime, it has also become indispensable to register all the incoming Rohingyas with correct personal data for swift delivery of humanitarian assistance and repatriation process.

Personal data during registration process 

The registration process cannot be effectively carried out due to the lack of resources and large number of refugees as quoted by Dhaka Tribune. There is error in personal data collection and entry details in registering Myanmar's national (Rohingyas) in Bangladesh. Registration with correct personal details will make administration of refugees’ affairs will be not only remarkably easy but also strategically important. Failure to do so would be fatal. 

Where can error in registration of personal data arise 

The system of address description in Bangladesh is different from that of Myanmar. In Bangladesh, address is described in following order: Name, Village Name, Post Office, Thana/Police Station, District. While in Myanmar, address is written as an order of Name, Village/ward Name, Village Track Name, Township, District. Though post office is there in Myanmar, P.O and P.S is not necessarily used and mention in the address in Myanmar.

Here is an example to correctly describe a particular address details of Kalameya in Myanmar: 

Name: Kalameya
Village/ward name: Maungtullah
Village Tract Name: Alaythankyaw (*Southern Maundaw)
Township: Maungdaw
District: Maungdaw

*Mentioning of which part of a township could provide quick location of an individual’s address.

As current personal data description during registration follows the system of Bangladesh, some strategic mistakes are made. See in the picture. This is occurred as the volunteers at the point of registration are of Bangladeshi and they have no idea of Myanmar system. 

Another important point is the mis-spelling of Myanmar village name. For example Myanmar village tract name Ohn Taw in Southern Maungdaw is mi-spelled as Untonk. See in picture below. 

It is also important to describe the village name in Rohingya version beside Myanmar official version. For example, Baringadale is Rohingya version of a village name in Kyaungtaung village tract in southern Maungdaw. See in the picture below. 

Why it is strategically important? 

The errors in descriptions of personal details would be a strategic mistake for many reasons. First, it would cause unnecessary hassle, delay, and chaos during repatriation. Second, it would be difficult to relocate them in their original homes. The most importantly, the Myanmar authorities would argue that the particular Rohingya is not of Myanmar origin if any mistake is made in describing personal details accurately. This has happened before. 

How to minimize those errors?

Bangladeshi volunteers who are registering Rohingya have to be trained of Myanmar's style of personal data description so that they can ask proper questions during registration. Secondly, Rohingya have to be informed about the importance of giving proper and correct data during registration process. The most cost effective option is to appoint Rohingya from within the Refugees who have prior working experience with INGOs in Arakan. They can help registrar and local volunteers with all registration details and process in all registration centres.

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