On May 22nd 2018, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra posted pictures of Rohingya refugees on her Instagram. From the comments, it was clear that most of her 58 million followers had never heard of the Rohingya women at all. Her post shot off a series of media news reports that brought the attention of the world to the plight of some 700,000 people who had fled Myanmar to take refuge in Bangladesh.
Sharing about the refugee camps where she had spent four days interacting with women and children, Chopra shared, “In the second half of 2017, the world saw horrific images of ethnic cleansing from the Rakhine State of Myanmar(Burma). This violence drove nearly 700,000 Rohingya across the border into Bangladesh – 60 per cent are children. Many months later they are still highly vulnerable, living in overcrowded camps with no idea when or where they will ever belong… Even worse, when they will get their next meal.”
“There is still so much more support needed,” she said. “It is up to us, as global citizens, to make sure they have a future.”
Who are the Rohingya?
In the words of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “The Rohingya are one of, if not the most discriminated people in the world.” The community is also one of Myanmar’s many ethnic minorities. Despite UN’s top court orders to Myanmar for protecting members of the community, the army has continued to attack the Rohingyas in the pretext of fighting militants.
Chopra’s post spotlighted an irony too
Myanmar’s leader – Aung San Suu Kyi – was once a human rights activist and is a laureate of Nobel Prize for Peace. Yet she has denied allegations of the country’s army targeting civilian Rohingyas. When Chopra urged the world to extend support to this community, she also indirectly brought attention to the irony that when it comes to showing compassion for a minority community, even a former champion of peace could fail.
How did the Rohingya refugees survive Covid-19?
Due to the lockdowns imposed in Bangladesh, many volunteers from some 100 organizations working for the Rohingya, were forced to evacuate. As a result Cox’s Bazaar – where the camps are – was left unattended. According to a local media report, 888,457 Rohingyas are living in 34 refugee camps here. In the area, a total of 7590 people were infected with Covid-19 and 89 people died, out of 507 are Rohingya refugees.
Priyanka Chopra’s continual work for children around the world
Joining the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador’s Global team in 2016, Priyanka Chopra has done remarkable humanitarian efforts towards the uplift of marginalized children around the world. The Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education promotes girls’ education in India. She is a champion of UNICEF’s Girl Up campaign that encourages young girls to pursue their passion. She visited Ethiopia in 2019 to visit children of Sudanese refugees and in 2021 became one of the ambassadors to demand G-7 leaders for donating free Covid-19 vaccines to poorer countries.
Why do we need more women like Priyanka Chopra?
Chopra received much flak from Indians because she extended support to women and children of the Rohingya community. People trolled her for not paying enough attention to women back home. However, none of these allegations was true since Chopra regularly supports several causes related to women and children in India through her foundation.
However, in standing with the Rohingya women and children, Chopra sent a strong global message that the plight of women and children remains the same around the world. And no support is small.
Women and children living in refugee camps around the world need our support and empathy. Let us raise our voices: use our social media accounts to help and support the refugees.
If you wish to make a difference in the lives of the Rohinygas, do visit UNICEF’s link and extend a helping hand.