UNHCR special envoy and Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie has said the world must not turn away from the nearly 1 million Rohingyas who have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
Jolie, who left Dhaka early Thursday concluding her Bangladesh visit, also sought continued support for those who have been displaced, until the Myanmar authorities show the genuine commitment needed to end a decades-long cycle of violence and displacement.
The special envoy’s visit came just ahead of a new funding appeal, the 2019 Joint Response Plan (JRP), to be launched next week by UNHCR, along with other humanitarian agencies, said the UN refugee agency on Thursday.
It seeks to raise more than US$920 million to assist Rohingya refugees and affected local communities this year.
The special envoy for the UN refugee agency held official meetings with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday.
During the meetings, she expressed UNHCR’s gratitude to the people and government of Bangladesh for their generosity in receiving over 7 lakh Rohingyas since August 2017.
Jolie reiterated UNHCR’s support for collective efforts to enable Rohingyas to live dignified lives in Bangladesh and the pursuit of lasting solutions.
She also raised concerns that without an urgent expansion and strengthening of educational opportunities, the future of a generation of Rohingya children would be at risk.
While in Dhaka, Jolie also visited two museums – the Liberation War Museum and the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum – where she viewed exhibitions about the country’s history, including its own experience of large-scale displacement.
Jolie began her three-day visit on Monday in Chakmarkul and Kutupalong Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, where she heard testimonies from Rohingya women, children and men who have endured a lifetime of persecution and discrimination.
There she witnessed some of the remarkable humanitarian response efforts to date, including a registration process, led jointly by the government and UNHCR that is providing many refugees with a legal identity for the first time.
She also visited a transit centre for newly arrived refugees and a hospital giving much-needed care and support to women and girls.
While recognising such achievements, Jolie also observed the limited education available to refugee children.
She urged efforts to ensure they can gain access to formal education that leads to recognised qualifications.
On Tuesday, the special envoy held a press conference in Kutupalong, the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee settlement.
She said until the Rohingya refugees can voluntarily return home to Myanmar, all have a collective responsibility to ensure that they can continue to live dignified lives in Bangladesh.
The special envoy focuses on major forced displacement crises, representing UNHCR and the High Commissioner at the diplomatic level.
This was her first visit to Bangladesh. Jolie has also met forcibly displaced Rohingya people during a prior visit to Myanmar in July 2015 and in India in November 2006.