Rohingya living in Saudi Arabia are worried that Riyadh will deport them, after the kingdom threatened Bangladesh with a migration ban unless Dhaka gave Bangladeshi passports to members of the persecuted minority.
Last month, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen confirmed in a Dhaka press conference that Riyadh had made the request for Bangladesh to give Rohingya living in Saudi Arabia Bangladeshi citizenship.
“Many of the refugees have never come to Bangladesh and have no idea about the country. They know Saudi culture and speak the Arabic language,” said Momen. UK sanctions against Saudi Arabia and Myanmar are an exercise in saving face
“They [Saudi Arabia] are not saying that they will send the 54,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh, but they should be provided with Bangladeshi passports.”
Momen noted that while Bangladesh would not be able to give all Rohingya living in Saudi Arabia passports, it would consider giving Bangladeshi documents to Rohingya who previously had them.
Since 2017, Bangladesh has given refuge to more than a million Rohingya who had fled persecution in neighbouring Myanmar.
Myanmar authorities have repeatedly refused to give Rohingya passports as they do not recognise them as citizens. Many in the community were then forced to obtain fake passports from other countries in order to find work abroad.
Local media also reported that foreign ministry officials said that Riyadh threatened to curb migration from Bangladesh if it failed to accept Saudi Arabia’s request – a move that could have disastrous consequences for Bangladesh’s economy.
Hassan, a Rohingya who has lived in Mecca nearly all his life, went to Saudi Arabia after his family fled Myanmar when he was nine years old.