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Bangladesh starts tally of Rohingya minority

Bangladesh has begun a count of the number of Rohingya Muslims living on its territory, as reported persecution continues to drive thousands from Myanmar. The census will also include data on living conditions.

Authorities in Bangladesh have already begun a survey to document the number of Rohingya living there, according to reports on Saturday.

Until now, some 33,000 Rohingya have been recorded in two official camps near the southern coastal area of Cox's Bazar, which borders Myanmar.

Bangladesh's Bureau of Statistics' survey director Alamgir Hossain told the AP news agency that the number of Rohingya in six eastern districts were being tallied, with the survey set to end next Wednesday.

Statistics on living conditions and the socioeconomic status of individuals are to be recorded as part of the survey.

The planning commission responsible for the survey says between 300,000 and 500,000 Rohingya are believed to be living in Bangladesh. Despite earlier efforts by the UN, the vast majority of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have been unable to return since a rise in

communal violence

in 2012.

Myanmar's Rohingya live predominantly in the western state of Rakhine. They are considered immigrants both there and in Bangladesh. They are not officially recognized by the Myanmar government as an indigenous ethnic minority group and are denied citizenship under the Myanmar Nationality Law. For decades, the group has been subjected to discrimination and violence by the country's Buddhist majority.

A large number of Rohingya have sought to make their way from Myanmar to Thailand, as well as by sea from Bangladesh to Malaysia and Indonesia,

adding to Southeast Asia's refugee crisis.

rc/ng (AP, dpa)