Afroza Zaman's (not her real name) ancestral home is in Cox's Bazar Sadar upazila. She lives in Chattogram city for personal reasons.
Being an irregular student, Afroza planned to continue to her education in the Bangladesh Open University. But her admissions process got stuck as she had failed to show her birth certificate.
Afroza, however, managed to get admitted with a testimonial certificate issued by the union council.
Arafat Ibrahim, a first-year honours student of Cox's Bazar City College, said: "I'm nineteen years old. As I don't have a birth registration certificate, I failed to get enlisted in the updated voter list."
Not just Afroza and Arafat, residents of four municipalities of eight upazila of Cox's Bazar had the same experience due to the suspension of the online birth registration programme for the past two years.
These people without birth certificates are also being deprived of different citizen rights.
Local people of these municipalities are having serious trouble while seeking citizen services, including availing passport, marriage registration, admission to college and universities and inclusion in the updated voter list.
The online birth registration programme has remained suspended for more than 25 months in four municipalities of Cox's Bazar to prevent the Rohingya people from getting fake birth certificates as Bangladeshis. But the local people of Cox's Bazar have been bearing the brunt.
Considering the allegations that Rohingya people illegally managed to get birth certificates in Cox's Bazar and other hill districts, the local authorities suspended the birth registration programme in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, claim the local people.
Though the administrations have repeatedly promised to ease their suffering, the local people see little hope.
As the national server for online birth registration has remained suspended for two years, people have failed to update their old certificates.
At least eight lakh Rohingya fled persecution and violence in Myanmar since August 25, 2017. Earlier, another 4 to 5 lakh Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh.
About 12 lakh Rohingya people are receiving humanitarian shelter in Bangladesh, many of whom have relatives in different countries.
To settle in those countries as Bangladeshi workers, many of these people tried to manage Bangladeshi birth certificates illegally.
Girls' marriages are getting stuck for birth certificates, Aziz Mowla, a businessman of Cox's Bazar told The Business Standard.
So in many cases, a kazi – marriage registrar – is choosing a contract signing on a stamp to avoid kabinnama – marriage certificate.
The last birth and death registrations were held in Cox's Bazar district in 2015-16, according to "Registrar General, Birth and Death Registration'' of the Local Government Division (LGD).
23 lakh 56 thousand 20 people in eight upazilas of Cox's Bazar received birth certificates. Of these, 4 lakh 62 thousand 589 in Sadar Upazila, 5 lakh 37 thousand 221 in Chakoria, 90 thousand 632 in Kutubdia, 2 lakh 86 thousand 532 in Maheshkhali, 2 lakh 15 thousand 346 in Pekuya, 2 lakh 24 thousand 391 in Ramu, 2 lakh 95 thousand 350 in Teknaf and 2 lakh 44 thousand 129 people in Ukhiya registered for birth certificate, according to the latest LGD data.
"For professional reasons, we have to assist many people in visa processing and getting their passports for a tour abroad, " said Jan-e-Alam, proprietor of Taj Corporation Travel Agent.
"Without birth registration certificates, many people were denied national identity cards and passports which ultimately made them ineligible for getting treatment in other countries or travelling abroad in the last two years. So, the suspended birth registration server in Cox's Bazar and its adjacent districts needs to be opened, " said Jan-e-Alam
Nurul Haque, the headteacher of Tekpara Government Primary School, who served as a supervisor in voter registration said: "As per the instructions of the Election Commission Office, no papers can be granted without an online birth registration certificate. So for the last two years, many residents could not get enlist as voters. For that reason, calling us 'non-cooperative', people harshly criticise us."
Pokkhali Union Parishad Chairman Rafiq Ahmed said: "Due to the suspended online birth registration, people are suffering a lot while proceeding for passports, travel abroad and their children's enrolment in school."
Cox's Bazar Municipality Mayor Mujibur Rahman said: "I have repeatedly informed the top officials of Dhaka about the shutdown of the birth registration server. They assured us about resuming it soon but we do not see any progress.''
Shahadat Hossain, the district election commission officer, said: "To prevent the Rohingya people from getting voter identification cards, such restrictions have been imposed in Cox's Bazar and its adjacent districts. But for the past two years, local people suffered."
Admitting the problems, Deputy Commissioner of Cox's Bazar Kamal Hossain said: "The server needs to be opened. I have sent letters to the high-level authority several times. Hopefully, there will be a solution soon.''
However, Kamal could not say exactly when the server suspension would be withdrawn.