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Angelina Jolie urges end to injustices that have driven nearly one million Rohingya into exile in Bangladesh

 

Angelina Jolie urges end to injustices that have driven nearly one million Rohingya into exile in Bangladesh

Visiting the world’s largest refugee settlement, UNHCR’s Special Envoy heard testimonies from Rohingya refugees and called for expanded access to education for Rohingya children.

 

Angelina Jolie meets Jorina, an 18-year-old Rohingya orphan who fled from Myanmar to Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh a few weeks earlier.  © UNHCR/Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo
Angelina Jolie meets Jorina, an 18-year-old Rohingya orphan who fled from Myanmar to Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh a few weeks earlier. © UNHCR/Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo


UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie heard testimonies this week from Rohingya refugees who have endured years of persecution and discrimination in Myanmar and survived a desperate flight across the border.

Speaking in Kutupalong refugee camp on Tuesday, Jolie said, “I am thankful that here in Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees have their existence recognized, and are being provided by the Government and UNHCR with documentation and proof of their identity – in some instances for the very first time in their lives.”

The visit marked Jolie’s 64th mission with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, since 2001, and her first mission to Bangladesh. She met with displaced Rohingya people in Myanmar in 2015 and in India in 2006. Decades of injustice have driven nearly 1 million Rohingya to flee their homes in Myanmar and seek refuge in Bangladesh – the majority of them in the last 18 months.

 

An array of sandals left outside the classroom door by students at an informal learning centre in Kutupalong refugee camp.  © UNHCR/Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo
An array of sandals left outside the classroom door by students at an informal learning centre in Kutupalong refugee camp. © UNHCR/Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo

Jolie met with Rohingya children at a two-storey bamboo learning centre among the densely populated hills of Kutupalong refugee camp. Since the latest influx, which began in August 2017, its population has soared to over 620,000 people, more than any other camp in the world. Most of the children in attendance had never set foot in a classroom before coming to Bangladesh. Back home, their parents told Jolie, education is out of reach for most Rohingya, often banned, taxed or discouraged with physical threats.

"Most of the children in attendance

had never set foot in a classroom before coming to Bangladesh."

 

At Chakmarkul refugee camp in Bangladesh, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie speaks with Rohingya women who survived sexual violence in Myanmar.  © UNHCR/Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo
At Chakmarkul refugee camp in Bangladesh, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie speaks with Rohingya women who survived sexual violence in Myanmar. © UNHCR/Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo

In Kutupalong, Jolie visited a joint Government of Bangladesh and UNHCR registration centre where Rohingya refugees are issued biometric identity cards. For people who are stateless, it is the strongest recognition of their identity they have ever known: a document that calls them by their name, spells out their right to stay safely in Bangladesh, enhances their protection and assistance, and affirms their right to return voluntarily home when conditions are right.

Addressing Rohingya refugees in the camp, Special Envoy Jolie said, “I want to say I am humbled and proud to stand with you today. You have every right to live in security, to be free to practice your religion and to coexist with people of other faiths and ethnicities. You have every right not to be stateless, and the way you have been treated shames us all.”

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  • Rohingya refugees set to work building terraces on a hillside in Chakmarkul camp to prevent landslides and protect the road and shelters below from flooding. © UNHCR/Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo

  • As camp life goes on behind her, Minara, a young Rohingya from Myanmar, pauses in the late afternoon sunlight at Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. © UNHCR/Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo

  • Rohingya youth play a game of football in a clearing at Chakmarkul refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. © UNHCR/Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo

  • Murshida, 33, scans her fingerprints as part of the joint registration process at Kutupalong refugee camp while her husband and their five children wait their turn. © UNHCR/Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo