Rekindling hope: Supporting Rohingya and Bangladeshi youths to coexist and gain skills
Social hubs playing a vital role in providing much sought-after physical space where Rohingya and Bangladeshi adolescents can interact and access life skills such as computer literacy classes and peacebuilding workshops.
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The world’s biggest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar is home to over 860,000 refugees. The benefits of promoting better relations between hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees living in the camps and the Bangladeshi community hosting them are obvious. A peaceful and non-violent environment is critical for the delivery of lifesaving health, psychosocial wellbeing, education and nutrition support critical to the well-being of both refugee and host community populations.
Cox’s Bazar is among the poorest districts in Bangladesh and adolescents from the host community face similar risks and negative coping mechanisms as refugee adolescents living in cramped conditions in the camps. Despite progresses made, critical child protection concerns continue to threaten children and youth in the camps and in the host community. They include child labour, child marriages, abuse, neglect, exploitation and child trafficking.
The lack of employment opportunities in the camps, education, low wages and the lack of durable solutions all add to the trafficking risk. The socio-economic challenges faced by Bangladeshi communities living in Cox’s Bazar also poses significant dangers to host community adolescent girls and boys.
Such uncertainty has only served to add to the myriad frustrations faced by adolescents from both communities.
Education sector statistics show that much of this frustration is justified – as of end of September 2019, about 80 per cent of Rohingya adolescents aged between 15 to 24 had no access to education or training.
The EU-funded Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace (ICSP) Social hubs, therefore, play a vital role in providing much sought-after physical space where Rohingya and Bangladeshi adolescents can interact in addition to accessing life skills such as computer literacy classes and peacebuilding workshops.
Prior to the opening of the five hubs in 2019, there were few programmes dedicated to responding to the needs of adolescents in both communities.
The hubs are currently offering 4,125 (boys 2,875, girls 1,250) adolescents from both communities an alternative to negative coping mechanisms. These stories, gathered before the onset of coronavirus lockdown, clearly illustrate how the hubs provide a forum for young people to interact and gain skills.
This UNICEF programme supported by the European Union Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) aims to enhance peaceful co-existence among adolescents and youth, to strengthen social cohesion and bridge gaps between Rohingya and Bangladeshi communities. You can download a digital brochure and poster of the project here.
This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of UNICEF and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.