A census enumerator, right, collects information from a Muslim family at Thae Chaung village in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Tuesday. Pic: AP.

SITTWE, Burma (AP) — The U.N. agency helping Burma carry out its first census in decades says it is “deeply concerned” members of the long-persecuted Rohingya Muslim population are not being counted.

In village after village in Rakhine state, enumerators are asking households their ethnicity. When the answer is “Rohingya,” they turn around and leave.

(ANALYSIS: Fair or unfair, Burma’s census will drive violence and discrimination)

Burma, a predominantly Buddhist nation of about 60 million, only recently emerged from a half-century of military rule. It held its last count in 1983 and experts say the information now being gathered is crucial for national development and planning.

But the inclusion of questions about ethnicity and race — approved by the U.N. Population Fund — have been widely criticized. Experts warned they could inflame sectarian tensions at a delicate stage in the country’s transition to democracy.