Lack of documentation severely limiting Rohingya freedom of movement within Rakhine despite granting of NVCs

Lack of documentation severely limiting Rohingya freedom of movement within Rakhine despite granting of NVCs

Rohingya people in Maungdaw, northern Rakhine State, say they are struggling to get permission to travel outside the district, despite recently being issued National Verification Cards (NVC).

Those looking to travel to towns such as Sittwe or Yangon are still being asked to show “Form 4” travel permits by authorities. “Having an NVC makes it easier to travel, but we can only travel in townships within Maungdaw district. If we want to go outside these townships, we need a Form 4 travel permit. We need to be able to travel with greater ease,” said a Rohingya resident of Maungdaw.

For a citizen to gain a Form 4, documents must be submitted to the District Immigration Office with the recommendations of a ward administrator, police station, and township general administration. People must also now show proof of COVID-19 vaccination certificates — a complex process where permissions may be denied at any point.

“In previous times, we had three varieties of identification cards. Some of them had our identity written as “Rohingya”, while some cards had “Muslim” noted. Cards issued earlier — in 1991 and 1992 — had Muslim and Bengali on them. NVCs issued since 2015 all have Bengali printed on them,” a Rohingya resident of Buthidaung township told DVB.

Rohingya in Rakhine State were issued White Cards (temporary registration cards) in 1991 and 1992. Since April 2015, National Verification Cards began to be issued throughout Rakhine State in their place.

In 2015, the Rohingya population in Maungdaw district was reportedly close to 800,000, yet the number of NVC holders was believed to be just over 4,000.

As a result of the military’s campaign of genocide beginning in 2017, more than 600,000 Rohingya were expelled from Maungdaw; only 10,000 of the remaining 200,000 people in the district have received NVCs as of June 13, 2022, according to the District Immigration Office.