Cherie Blair Saw The Positive Difference A Meaningful Engagement With Local Communities Can Have.
29th May 2019
Two weeks ago I was in Cox’s Bazar, a thriving coastal city on the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh. Named after a British trader and famed for its long sandy beach, Cox’s Bazar has always been open to the world.
However, now it faces the huge task of catering for the Rohingya community forced to migrate from Myanmar as the humanitarian crisis continues. Since 2017, the small refugee camp run by the United Nations for some 35,000 Rohingya has been transformed into a sprawling city, home to more than 908,000 victims of persecution.
Most are residing in the Kutupalong-Balukhali expansion site, which has become the largest such settlement in the world. I visited the camp at the request of the World Food Programme. Their emergency coordinator at the camp, Peter Guest, had noticed that amongst the UN and international NGO staff working in the camp one group of articulate and determined young women stood out. They were the 30-odd graduates from the Asian University for Women, a regional university offering world class liberal arts education to young women from 17 countries across Asia and the Middle East, from Myanmar to Sri Lanka, from Vietnam to Pakistan. I am the proud chancellor of the AUW and I jumped at the chance to witness these alumni’s work while I was in Bangladesh for the university’s 2019 graduation ceremony.
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