Dhaka, Dec 14 (EFE).- Four Rohingya storytellers living in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar have been jointly recognized as the 2023 regional winners for the United Nations refugee agency’s top award.
Abdullah Habib, 29, Shahida Win, 27, Sahat Zia, 29, and Salim Khan, 31, have won the regional award for Asia and the Pacific, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday.
They have been recognized “for their use of photography, poetry, journalism, and audio-visual art to document the experiences, voices, and hopes of stateless Rohingya refugees living in camps in Bangladesh,” the agency said.
Khan was born in Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh to refugee parents, while the other three fled their homeland in Myanmar and found shelter in Bangladesh in 2017.
The UN agency has honored individuals, groups, and organizations that go above and beyond the call of duty to protect refugees, internally displaced people, and stateless people with the Nansen Refugee Award since 1954.
The agency said the award winners encouraged people worldwide to learn about the Rohingya communities by portraying “the lives of their fellow refugees truthfully and with empathy.”
“Through my lens, I try to capture the strength and courage of Rohingya refugees, illuminating our stories to the world,” UNHCR quoted Khan as saying in a statement.
The award winners hoped to bring change to the Rohingya, who remain displaced in Bangladesh.
“We don’t want to be a forgotten community,” said Zia, who founded the photography magazine Rohingyatographer in collaboration with other refugees in the camp.
“I want people around the world to see the Rohingya people as human beings, like everyone else,” Abdullah said.
The four had their images published in international media, contributed to photography magazines and exhibitions, and gained thousands of followers on social media.
In addition to amplifying Rohingya voices through their work, they also conduct workshops to train others.
“They have expanded the community of refugee storytellers able to use film, photography, and poetry to express themselves and share crucial information on public health and how to respond to the fires and floods that regularly affect the camp,” the agency said.
Shahida said Rohingya women were “more vulnerable in my community” and wanted to be their voice. “Share their stories through my lens and describe their feelings through my poetry lines.”
Around 936,000 Rohingya refugees have fled from neighboring Myanmar to Bangladesh, including 774,000 who survived a wave of violence and persecution by the Myanmar military in August 2017.
The crackdown has led to allegations of ethnic cleansing and genocidal intent against the Myanmar military. EFE