Mohammed Imran, an elected refugee representative in the registered Kutupalong refugee camp, delivered this brilliant speech to Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, when he visited the camp yesterday. Imran said: “I spoke to people, especially young people (in Kutupalang camp). They didn’t tell me I want more food, more blankets and more medicines. They told me — give us a future. That’s the message to both leaders of Bangladesh and Myanmar.”
The speech to Filippo Grandi:
“No one can prosper if there are no opportunities. The fact that after 25 years there are no professionals in the camp is largely because of lack of development and opportunity. This is an indictment on UNHCR and hence its support has been largely a failure.
We need scholarships for students to study in local universities or overseas. Many refugee students worldwide have such opportunities. For 25 years the Rohingya have remained incapacitated, largely due to policies of the government and UNHCR. Self representation is paramount to support scholarships for those Rohingya with the ability to go to university.
Food and shelter isn’t only what is required by refugees. It’s like throwing money into a pit. The Rohingya have created an industry; opportunity for local professionals. Bangladeshis are receiving handsome salaries. Why haven’t the same opportunities been provided for refugees? Or at least the opportunity to also develop. To live decent lives.
There are countless visits, meetings, diplomats and celebrities. What does it all achieve? How can the support provided be measured? If nothing changes, who is accountable? How can it be viewed as a success? It needs to be communicated in a better way.
If nothing changes, no durable solutions, no capacitated Rohingya … who is accountable for that? Surely it is UNHCR and the Government as custodians and protectors. Increased opportunities for self determination.”
(Photo is Imran with children)