'We need a chance to change our future, and education is the only way'
The Rohingya community needs access to education facilities to become empowered and build a future, Rohingya youths from the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar said at a webinar on Monday.
The webinar, titled “Camp voices webinar series-3: Strengths and aspirations of Rohingya refugees,” was arranged by the Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ) of Brac University. The discussion addressed key issues related to the role of the youth in building peace, social cohesion, livelihoods, and education for Rohingya children and girls.
The purpose of the online event was to generate ideas, share opinions and perspectives with the hope of finding a solution to the Rohingya humanitarian crisis in Cox’s Bazar, organizers said.
Five Rohingya youths participated in the discussions as representatives of the Rohingya community. They stressed the need for education to take the community forward.
Mirza Nur, a singer and performer from among the Rohingya, said: “We have talent, and we can improve ourselves. We can work with dignity and human rights, but we need access to proper and advanced education facilities. We cannot live off relief for the rest our lives.
“We need a chance to change our future, and education is the only way,” he added
Umme Salam, a Rohingya storyteller, said: “Women are the most vulnerable during any crisis. The main reason for this is that women have always been denied equal opportunities for education, and this is the same in our Rakhine state as well.
“Education is the best investment. We need the international community’s support, because our community has the talent to produce doctors, engineers or scientists if we get access to education,” the storyteller added.
Hossain Mubarak, a Rohingya teacher, said a lack of education leads to social problems such as domestic violence and child marriage.
“We will not be able to become stronger as a community without education,” he added.
Abdullah, a Rohingya photographer and humanitarian, said measures to address fires at the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar need to immediately be implemented.
“We have seen 20 fire incidents at the camps since 2017. This is the biggest crisis. We need training and awareness on how to prevent fires, and we also call on humanitarian organizations to provide adequate fire extinguishing equipment at the camps. Fire services should also have a unit within a kilometre of the camps,” he added.
Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation United Kingdom, said: “The Bangladesh government has given shelter to the Rohingya community, while humanitarian organizations are providing relief, and some educational opportunities. However, we need long-term capacity building to improve as a community and show our talent.”
The international community should force Myanmar to implement the provisional measures from the International Court of Justice, he added.
Manzoor Hasan, executive director of CPJ, said: “The Rohingya youth are capable enough. They are working with us as researchers on various issues of justice, peace and accountability. We need special education programs in the camp now, and international organizations have to come forward for this.”
Azizul Hoque, research associate at CPJ, moderated the discussion.