Japanese soccer star Makoto Hasebe visits Rohingya refugee camps with UNICEF
7 June 2019: International footballer and UNICEF Japan Goodwill Ambassador, Makoto Hasebe, made a surprise visit to the Rohingya refugee camps during the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr on 5 and 6 June. The refugees were in festive mode and provided a warm welcome to the Japanese soccer star. Mr Hasebe travelled to Bangladesh to gain insights into UNICEF’s humanitarian work and to promote the rights and well-being of Rohingya children.
“It’s an honour for me to come here at this special time to year and meet these bright dynamic children. There are over 500,000 children living in the refugee camps, each with their own hopes and dreams, and the world must not forget about them. It’s been two years since they fled violence in Myanmar and we need to find sustainable solutions to ensure a bright future for these children.,” the Eintracht Frankfurt star said.
The Japanese footballer was not deterred by the monsoon rains which fell heavily during a game of soccer with young Rohingya boys. The match – played in muddy conditions with much slipping and sliding – provided a welcome respite for young refugees.
“Football is an incredible tool to bring communities together. No matter where you come from, or what flag you carry, it unites people from every corner of the world. It has been an honour for UNICEF Bangladesh to host Mr Hasebe,” said Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh.
We are extremely grateful that he gave his time and shared his skills effortlessly with the children. He was so enthusiastic and eager to learn about their experiences and their traditional sports from Myanmar.”
During his visit, Mr Hasebe spent time at a UNICEF supported stabilization centre – where children with life threatening severe malnutrition receive 24-hour inpatient care – and met mothers who were nursing their children back to full health. He spoke to a woman taking care of her sister’s baby after she died, leaving it without any breastmilk. The woman was learning how to become a wet nurse to ensure the infant receives the best nutrients.
UNICEF is targeting over 1.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Cox’s Bazar from both the Rohingya and local Bangladeshi communities. The Government of Japan has been a key partner for UNICEF since the onset of this refugee crisis contributing USD 27 million to address critical needs. Urgent funding is required to continue this life-saving emergency operation.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.bd