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Rohingya refugee’s letter to UN Refugee Agency Chief Filippo Grandi

Chief of the UN Refugee Agency Mr. Filippo Grandi during his visit to the Kutupalong Refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: UNHCR in Bangladesh

“We need to be able to plan our future. No one can prosper if there are no opportunities. Our children need to receive accredited education that will allow them to enter institutions of higher learning. Opportunities must be made available for employment”

Dear Sir,

Thank you for visiting our people in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

A 25-year is a long time to live in a refugee camp. In those years, I have witnessed and walked so much of difficulties being as a refugee, and most of them have been intransigence of those who are assigned to be our ‘custodians’ and ‘protectors’, and hopelessness of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who continue to live in limbo.

My assessment is that there has been no change in the situation of refugee camps, and there is no hope to the dejected and estranged residents in the camps. Having fled for our lives in Myanmar, then rounded up and housed under meagre shelter of plastic sheets overhead without the chance to earn wages or receive a meaningful education, we remain as prisoners in Bangladesh.

Without hope to return home or build life, dilapidated shelter and food in refugee or internally displaced camps do not constitute the meaningful life of human.

All human beings should be treated and provided opportunities equally. That includes Rohingya refugees. Unfortunately, the works of UNHCR and the government of Bangladesh have resulted in no improvement or found long-term solution for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees. Instead, our imprisonment creates abundance of opportunities for professionals to oversee from comfortable office rooms, and locals to deliver supplies and guard our open-prisons.

Over the years, there have been countless of meetings, and diplomats and celebrities visits, however we have not seen these meetings and visits brought measurable achievements or positive developments to the lives of refugees, or able to persuade the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to find permanent solutions.

How can it be viewed as a success when the refugees continue to live in the camps since 1991-92 without a hope, and more than 75,000 recently added to the dire camps in October 2016 after Myanmar Armed Forces launched campaigns of ‘ethnic cleansing’?

It is now the time to draw a clear plan for the future of Rohingya refugees. A high number of Rohingya refugees are not able to read or write or work as they are not given the opportunity to access to education. Only education up to Class 8 is now recently accessible in the registered camps. Our children need to receive accredited education that will allow them to enter institutions of higher learning and scholarships must be made available for refugee students who are able to pass HSC to study in local universities if we are to see any development or hope among Rohingya refugees. Employment opportunities must also be available if we want to see freeing refugees from poverty stridden situation of camps.

It is time for both the UNHCR and the government of Bangladesh to provide opportunities to improve the lives of refugees, and find ways to stop persecution and discrimination, and grant the basic human rights in Myanmar.

“We have been deprived from all kinds of rights in Myanmar for being Rohingya, and in Bangladesh for being refugee.”

Best Regards,

On behalf of refugees,

Imran.

Former elected Camp Leader

Kutupalong registered refugee camp.

Email: imran.rrsa@gmail.com