An April 10, 2015 file photo of a group of ethnic Rohingya that came to Kedah illegally in hoping to seek refugee status. Bengali Muslims from Bangladesh are now trying a similar stunt by posing as Rohingyas to obtain UNHCR cards. - BERNAMApic
ALOR SETAR: More than 3,000 Bengali Muslims from Bangladesh are said to have posed as Rohingya refugees to obtain United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cards in the past 10 years.
According to Kedah Rohingya Society in Malaysia (RSM) chairman, Mohd Noor Abu Bakar, members of the ethnic group which lives in the neighbouring province of Chittagong in Bangladesh at the border with Myanmar have similar facial and complexion features as well as an almost similar language with ethnic Rohingyas to obtain the UNHCR card.
For the purpose (of getting the card), he claimed that the Bengali Muslims were also trained to use the Rohingya accent and were prepared for questions by UNHCR interviewers.
They claimed they came from Maungdaw, a Rohingya area in Rakhine, Myanmar, he said.
The UNHCR card is said to be good to seek employment in Malaysia which is considered a gold mine for its stable policies and ample employment opportunities.
"They entered Rakhine and later joined Rohingyas to take boats to Malaysia.
They are not refugees," he said in an interview with Bernama yesterday.
Meanwhile, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) International Studies Centre senior lecturer Associate Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said if the allegation was true, the Rohingya Association should take immediate action to assist UNHCR identify the real Rohingyas.
"They (Rohingya Association) should sit down with UNHCR on the matter as they know the Rohingya better," he said, adding that this was because the policy of Malaysia in accepting refugees was not a matter which could be abused as it was based on humanitarian grounds.
"Otherwise Malaysia should not open its doors to refugees taking advantage of the situation. We do not want them to bring their country's problems here," he added.