• Monday, Apr 22, 2019
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Rohingyas elect female camp leaders

  • Published at 12:58 pm June 28th, 2018
File photo of a Rohingya camp in Cox's BazarSyed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

The election is a pilot project of the community governance process

Recently-arrived Rohingyas living in the Shalbagan-Nayapara settlement in Cox’s Bazar, for the first time, have selected a women-led camp committee.

The election in Shalbagan camp is a pilot project under the community governance process— an initiative taken by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, in partnership with ADRA, and Bangladeshi local authorities.

Rohingyas living in Shalbagan chose their camp committee consisting of: a chief, a deputy, an assistant, a general member, and 12 block representatives.

The elected camp leader, deputy leader, and half of all block representatives, are female.

"This is a remarkable achievement. Rohingya refugees in Shalbagan have spoken and decided they want 50% of their representatives to be women," said Bernadette Castel-Hollingsworth, UNHCR's senior protection coordinator in Cox's Bazar.

This is the first time elections for camp leaders have been held—to ensure that communities are represened  in areas where recently-arrived Rohingya refugees, who fled violence in Myanmar, are living.

"This election marks a transition to a more democratic form of representation," said Bangladesh's Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mohammad Abdul Kalam.

"Through the election, the voices of people will have firmer ground from which to communicate gaps in services and their needs," he said.

The camp committee selection process began seven weeks ago with refugees nominating 20 candidates who were then screened against eligibility criteria.

The newly-elected committee began work this week, starting with capacity-building plans supported by UNHCR, humanitarian partners, and local authorities.

As part of the community governance process, camp committee elections are intended to be held across other refugee sites in the coming months.