The rights of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar are in question after a senior Bangladeshi minister said they would not be afforded official refugee status.
- Bangladesh collects biometric data on Rohingya in camps
- Many Rohingya arrive with no documentation whatsoever
- Bangladesh uses registration as a information-gathering opportunity
The Bangladesh Government has set about documenting the hundreds of thousands of new arrivals amid concerns about radicalisation inside the camps.
About 430,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh in a month, escaping what the United Nations calls "textbook" ethnic cleansing by the military in response to Rohingya insurgent attacks last month.
They're welcome for the time being, but the Government has said it doesn't want them staying, despite rights groups and the UN saying they're already refugees under international law.
Many newly-arrived Rohingya have no documents whatsoever and are forced to wait for days in the hot sun for their chance at legitimacy.
"I came every day here for the past eight days and went back due to the large crowd," Rohingya man Sami Ulluh says.
By the time the 29-year-old finally reached the front of the line, he had already been waiting five hours, despite having arrived early to join the queue.
He's asked basic questions about his family, when he fled and from which village.
Inside, he is photographed and fingerprinted.
Twenty minutes later a Bangladeshi border guard calls his name and presents him a laminated card.
Outside he holds it up proudly but admits he isn't really sure what it means.
"Authorities say 'take this card, it will be beneficial for you'," he says.
Authorities say it gives him proof of who he is and access to rations but little certainty.
Rohingya must be protected: UN
Although small and poor, Bangladesh has traditionally accepted Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar.
Approximately 300,000 were thought to be in the country before this latest and largest exodus.
On Sunday, briefing the press after a law and order cabinet meeting, Industry Minister Amir Hossain Amu said the Rohingya wouldn't be declared refugees.
"At present, we do not have any plan to give any refugee status to Rohingya," he said.
But under international law the Rohingya must be protected, according to United Nations high commissioner for refugees Fillipo Grandi.
"People who are fleeing violence, who are under the conditions that these people have fled, are refugees," he said.
Poor countries that are neighbouring a country that is producing a large outflow of refugees still have obligations, according to the director of Human Rights Watch's refugee program, Bill Frelick.
"Even if they haven't signed the refugee convention, they have obligations under what's called customary international law, they have obligations not to push people back to places where they would face these serious harms," he said.
Bangladesh's Government does have another incentive to gather this data.
Several Government figures have expressed concern about radicalisation in the camps and this registration is also a golden information-gathering opportunity.
"The reason behind the biometric process is to keep record of Rohingya. We want them to go back to their own place," Mr Amu said.
Mr Ulluh said he would happily return, but only if Myanmar would guarantee peace and security.
Right now that seems a very distant prospect.