Rohingya Refugee Influx: Youth in heart of Humanitarian Action!

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October 14, 2017 at 8:41 pm

Blog by Sohanur Rahman, sharing his experience from a recent visit to Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

Youth volunteers of ActionAid Bangladesh and YPSA who are facilitating fields and humanitarian response. Picture Credit: Sohanur Rahman/ Global Platform Bangladesh
Today half of the 1.4 billion people living in countries affected by conflict and disaster are under the age of 20 according to the office of the UN secretary’s Envoy on Youth. Many of them, especially girls and young women, face poverty and exploitation. Yet their needs are often neglected and overlooked by providers of humanitarian assistance.
Like Myanmar, Half a million people have arrived in Bangladesh from Rakhine state since August because of ethnic cleansing. This unprecedented influx of refugees in a short period of time has led to a large and escalating humanitarian crisis. In the context of this crisis at Cox’sBazar District, many agencies providing the emergency response but youth are not focused on their actions. Other-hand, ActionAid Bangladesh(AAB) working with a local partner Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) to promoting inclusive programmes that contribute to the protection, health and development of Rohingya young women, young men, girls and boys within humanitarian settings.

Moinnarghona, Balukhali 2 Ukhiya, Cox’sBazar, The camps are not equipped to handle the surge of people. More than 70 percent of the at least 501,000 refugees are in need life-saving assistance.Picture Credit: Sohanur Rahman/ Global Platform Bangladesh
Last Week I have visited world’s biggest refugee camp as volunteer of Global Platform Bangladesh where nearly half a million Rohingya refugees are living who’ve fled across the border and have sought refuge in Bangladesh. As per my visit, I have found more than two-thirds have no sustainable shelter, half have no safe drinking water, and with the existing camps and host communities under-equipped to deal with such a large influx, the ground situation is chaotic and volatile including the presence of radicals groups.
Many emergency interventions of humanitarian agencies are operating to address women and children rights issues on Gender-based violence (GVB) and Child Protection (CP). Though, It is more rational because 60 percent of Rohingya refugee are women and children. Young people are also affected by this humanitarian crises, but they are not on the spotlight. Otherwise only they can lead resilience and support to response efforts as a critical change agent. As Youth Activist and Human Rights defender, We are seriously concerned about Rohingya youth refugee who is at high risks of volition and extremism with unexpected situations.
Young refugees are passing lazy time at a local shop of Balukhali-2 Rohingya camp, CoxsBazar.Picture Credit: Sohanur Rahman/ Global Platform Bangladesh
In my visit, I and Yousuf, volunteer of Global Platform Bangladesh have discussed with Maung Shwe Hla (Arafat) who was a brilliant student of class ten and final secondary school exam upcoming on his country Myanmar. But all dreams are destroyed by this crisis. He is very good at English and managing #facebook account also but worried about his future. His favourite subject is biology.
I want to return my homeland and getting access to Justice full education. My aim in life is a to be a doctor and serve the vulnerable people, told us Maung Shwe Hla (Arafat).
Rohingya refugee Youth Maung Shwe Hla (Arafat) in Left at Balukhali-2 Rohingya camp, CoxsBazar needed hope for different future. Picture Credit: Sohanur Rahman/ Global Platform Bangladesh
We have also met with some Rohingya youth who are passing the free time by viewing English newspaper and gossip. They want to continue their education. Previously They have faced highly discrimination at educational institutions in Myanmar. They have also needed recreational and sports materials. After my observation, I have talked with Abdul Alim, Manager-Humanitarian Response, AAB and Amar Joty Nayek, Global Adviser of ActionAid about how we can put young people at the heart of the humanitarian action to fulfil their needs. At first talk, Abdul Alim accepted this thought positively. He has mentioned that, ActionAid had a women-friendly space already, young girls were welcome there also, of course! But for that age group, 16–25, we should take an initiative to innovate and practice leadership by them. Amar Joty Nayek has inspired me to go with this unique idea, though he deserves vast knowledge and experience to many international crisis responses.
Drawing crisis map and identified other service providers by Youth Volunteers and field staff of AAB-YPSA.Picture Credit: Sohanur Rahman/ Global Platform Bangladesh
Getting green signal from Abdul Alim, I have started communication with local implementing partner Young Power in Social Action (YPSA). When I proposed to Md Arifur Rahman, Chief Executive of YPSA to set up a colorful youth center for Youth refugee which increase resources to address the needs and priorities of adolescents and youth affected by this crises, and identify ways to more accurately track and report on the resources allocated to young people in humanitarian contexts; he agreed with us on my concept. He also suggested organise such kind of training session on Life Skill Education, Leadership, countering violation and extremism and Conflict resolution. After that, we sat down with all volunteers who are involved with AAB-YPSA Rohingya refugee response program. All are team member have appreciated this initiative for refugee youth and highly agreed to set up a youth centre to provides hope for a different future. We have conducted need-based servery and prepare crisis map including identifying other services provider.

Yousuf Mia, Youth Volunteers of ActionAid Bangladesh collecting data pertaining to adolescents and youth in influx humanitarian settings. Picture Credit: Sohanur Rahman/ Global Platform Bangladesh
Systematic engagement and building impact full partnership with youth, in all phases of humanitarian action through sharing of information and involvement in decision-making processes at all levels, including budget allocations; its possible to taken youth on the heart of this humanitarian action. Recognize and strengthen young power to be effective humanitarian actors, this case is a great example.
All actors are now busy to install a Youth Center for capacity building with the creative confidence of young refugees to lead. Rohingya young people is waiting for their chance to make a difference!
#WithRefugees #SaveRohingya #Bangladesh #YouthPower

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  • dyanrodriguez
    November 9, 2017 at 2:17 am

    Sohanur, thank you for sharing this. I used to be a youth leader and I can relate to what you said. Please continue documenting and sharing these insights. True enough, the youth sector is often undermined in interventions, the lack or absence of attention to this sector, as you said, can only further strengthen radicalization.

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