Bangladesh parliament debates birth control for Rohingya refugees

Bangladesh parliament debates birth control for Rohingya refugees

A parliamentary panel in Bangladesh has recommended birth control measures for Rohingya refugees, according to reports in Bangladeshi media.

In reporting the move, Dhaka-based news site bdnews24 claimed on Saturday that many of the 30,000 refugees registered at two camps in Cox’s Bazaar strive to have bigger families “to secure more rations”.

The report said that from the day a Rohingya refugee child is born, he or she qualifies for the full UN ration of 12 kg of rice each month, and that was the incentive for Rohingya couples to have large families.

The standing committee at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka has reportedly recommended stopping rations for any more than two children per family.

The news comes soon after calls were made in neighbouring Burma to introduce a policy limiting the Rohingya community to two children per family.

Neither Burma nor Bangladesh recognises the Muslim Rohingya community as citizens, and both governments have made efforts to force the other to accept the stateless Rohingya – one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, in the words of the UN.

“Myanmar [Burma] has ignored repeated calls by Bangladesh to take back its citizens,” said bdnews24. “Dhaka claims the illegal Rohingyas are involved with various criminal activities. They have also been caught while accepting fake Bangladeshi passports.”

The parliamentary move to place restrictions on food aid to the Rohingyas with large families follows comments made last month by Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dipu Moni who told a representative of the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, that Bangladesh was “already hosting a huge population of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar [Burma] and could not take in more.”

But Chris Lewa, coordinator of the Arakan Project, pointed to the fact that there are already cases of chronic malnutrition in the Cox’s Bazaar refugee camps in southern Bangladesh. “Cutting food rations to already malnourished children will put their lives at risk,” she said.

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