Bangladesh has been hosting over a million Rohingyas in refugee camps
Arab film and TV star and World Food Programme (WFP) Goodwill Ambassador Hend Sabry has visited Cox's Bazar refugee camps where over a million Rohingyas have sought sanctuary.
“I wanted to visit the Rohingya families in the camps to show that suffering has no borders and humanity has no boundaries,” said Sabry. “Today (Saturday) I met inspiring women who have become heads of their households and are doing their best for their children in one of humanity’s most difficult circumstances. They have lost so much but remain hopeful and looking forward to their future. Their stories are heart-breaking, and their resilience inspiring.”
Sabry visited a number of WFP-supported projects on Saturday, including food distribution, nutrition services for children, and skills training to build self-reliance for women. WFP supports the food needs of 80% of the camp population, or 840,000 of them, through direct food assistance and also e-vouchers with which they can buy food at WFP-designated shops run by contracted local retailers, read a press release.
“WFP is not just meeting the families’ food need, they are also contributing to the local economy by giving smallholder farmers and food producers an outlet to sell their products. This operation is about changing lives as much as it is about saving lives,” Sabry said.
Beyond the camps, WFP is also providing women in the host communities the knowledge and tools they need – as well as a cash grant – to set up small businesses.
Mother of two girls, Sabry was keen to drop by learning centres in the camps. At one centre, she interacted with girls and boys attending classes, where every school day, children receive high energy biscuits from WFP as a snack. The school feeding program benefits nearly 250,000 children in more than 3,700 learning centres in the camps and 140,000 children from the host communities in almost 500 schools.
“We take a lot of things in our lives for granted: a comfortable home, a kitchen filled with food, an education and a nationality. People I met today have none of that,” reflected Sabry. “They are grateful to Bangladesh for giving them a safe place to stay and humanitarian workers for helping get through this difficult situation. While the world’s attention keeps moving to the next crisis, let’s not forget these children and their families whose future remains uncertain two years on since they arrived.
“Empathy should not stop at one’s own border. While I have visited many of the crises in the region that I live in and heard firsthand from displaced Iraqis, Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, I extend this empathy to anyone who is suffering beyond the borders of my region,” she added. “If we say ‘it’s not us, why should we care?’ One day if it’s you, you will find that you have created a world that is so divided that no one will be there for you.”
This is Sabry’s first mission outside the Middle East and North Africa region since she was appointed WFP Goodwill Ambassador in 2010. Prior to Bangladesh, she visited WFP’s operations in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria.