Rohingya Muslims, who fled government-sanctioned violence in Myanmar, sought refuge in Bangladesh, which now hosts more than one million people. Photo: iStock/Joel Carillet

The authorities in Saudi Arabia have deported at least 13 Rohingyas,  the Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star reported on January 9. The Rohingyas, who were deported on January 8, had entered Saudi Arabia with passports from Bangladesh “several years back,” the report said.

They were detained and deported after they had admitted they were Rohingyas from Myanmar, not Bangladeshis. They were sent back to Bangladesh on a Saudi Arabian airlines flight and many more may be deported soon, according to The Daily Star.

More than 1,000 Rohingyas are in detention camps in Saudi Arabia for violating immigration rules. Before 2011, those who identified themselves as stateless Rohingyas in Saudi Arabia received residency permits.

After 2011, however, Saudi Arabia started registering them with fingerprints as Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Nepalese, not as Rohingya, The Daily Star quoted a Rohingya activist as saying.

The activist also told the paper that he had requested the Saudi authorities not to deport Rohingyas and he would approach European countries and seek their help in halting the deportations.

It is uncertain how they managed to obtain Bangladeshi passports, and a Bangladeshi diplomat in Riyadh said that was a big concern. The deportations have created “more worries for Bangladesh which is already burdened with over a million Rohingya refugees,” The Daily Star noted.

At the same time, there were reports of Rohingyas leaving the camps in Bangladesh and going to other parts of the country. Resentment is also growing among local people in Cox’s Bazar area, where the camps are located, with jobs being taken by Rohingyas, who are willing to work for lower wages.

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