After the influx of Myanmar’s Rohingyas into Bangladesh, Dhaka is planning to introduce voluntary sterilisation across the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar district, AFP reported.

More than six lakh Rohingya, who arrived from Myanmar since August 25 after violence broke out in Rakhine state, are fighting for space in Cox’s Bazar. Most of them live in camps with limited access to food, poor sanitation and lack of health facilities.

Pintu Kanti Bhattacharjee, who heads the family planning service in Cox’s Bazar, said some parents at the camps had up to 19 children and more than one wife. He said there was little knowledge of birth control among the Rohingya. Officials told the news agency that around 600 Rohingya women have given birth after arriving in the border district, and nearly 20,000 women were pregnant.

The family planning authorities in Cox’s Bazar launched a drive to provide contraception to the refugees, however, they managed to distribute only 549 packets of condoms. The authorities have now asked the Bangladeshi government to approve a plan to launch vasectomies for men and tubectomies for women, Bhattacharjee told AFP.

“Sterilisation of the males is the best way to control the population,” said Bhattacharjee. “If a man is sterilised, he cannot father a child even if he marries four or five times.”

Bangladesh has run a successful domestic sterilisation programme, and nearly 250 people undergo the process in Cox’s Bazar every month, the news agency reported. However, to perform the procedure on non-Bangladeshis will require approval from the health minister.

Rohingyas have been denied citizenship in Myanmar and are classified as illegal immigrants. The community has been subjected to violence by the Buddhist majority and the Army in Myanmar, though the country has repeatedly denied this claim.