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4 ways to engage more personally with the global refugee crisis

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A Rohingya survivor showing the scar on his arm inside a makeshift shelter in a refugee camp.
(Photo by Azimul Hassan)

The situation in Myanmar is deteriorating. The government doesn’t recognize Rohingya Muslims as citizens or accept them as an ethnic group — and the military has waged a brutal assault based on slaughter, rape, and village burning that’s claimed thousands of civilians. We see their stories in the news, but rarely are we given an intimate daily glimpse of their lives in exile.

A new, impactful project that’s empowering young Rohingya is changing that. Take a look at these three eye-opening Instagram accounts, which aim to give you a close look at life after genocide in a massive Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh.

@dilkayas, @azimulhas, and @omalkha are Instagramming their experiences from the camps throughout 2019 as media fellows with Doha Debates, a new forum for solutions-driven dialogue and storytelling, and Fortify Rights, a human rights organization that investigates and documents abuses on the ground in Southeast Asia. Here’s how you can engage with the global refugee crisis.

1. Follow Dil Kayas on Instagram

Rohingya kids playing in a football field inside the camp
(Photo by Dil Kayas)

If you’re not yet following @dilkayas, here’s why you should. Dil is documenting her life and shaping her own narrative from the refugee camp. “I have always wanted to become a photographer,” she says. “In Myanmar, we were not allowed to take photos. If we tried talking to media there, we usually got arrested by military and police.”

“This is a community of survivors who are often only associated with death and destruction,” says Matthew Smith, co-founder of Fortify Rights. “This project enables them to represent life, to represent their own lives. They’ll be sharing photos, videos, and livestreams that we’ll collect and curate with them.”

2. Follow Azimul Hassan on Instagram

A young Rohingya girl pumping water inside the camp
(Photo by Azimul Hassan)

When you follow @dilkayas, also click to follow @azimulhas, who is sharing sights and sounds from the refugee camp. “Working as a photographer has been my dream since childhood,” Azimul says. “We never had Rohingya photographers” in Myanmar, he adds.

From neighboring Bangladesh, Azimul is learning Instagram fast, but an estimated 598,000 Rohingya are “still confined to concentration camps or confined to their villages” in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, says Smith of Fortify Rights. It’s “essentially a mass arbitrary detention, right under the nose of the world.”

“Access to technology empowers the survivors who have it,” says Amy Smith, co-founder of Fortify Rights. Training refugees with media skills “gives them a voice and an outlet to say what’s going on,” she says — not just to gather evidence of human rights violations, but to push for global awareness and accountability. Get a glimpse of Azimul’s refugee camp through his eyes.

3. Follow Omal Khair on Instagram

Rohingya kids are walking through a narrow lane between the shelter inside camp
(Photo by Omal Khair)

Connect with all three media fellows, including @omalkha. Omal is sharing her on-the-ground experiences on Instagram. “When I fled Myanmar, I couldn’t control my sadness,” she says. Here are some of her images from the refugee camp:

4. Join the debate with #DearWorld

Lives are being lost. Land is being destroyed. Journalists are being arrested and sentenced to prison in Myanmar for doing their jobs and covering the massacre. But solutions are possible, and partnerships are taking hold.

Doha Debates and Fortify Rights invite everyone to join the conversation with #DearWorld and follow @DohaDebates. Solutions are at the heart of Doha Debates, which is setting the stage in our first season to tackle the refugee crisis, gender inequality, water shortage, the rise of artificial intelligence, the loss of faith in institutions, and the future of capitalism.

The revitalized and expanded Doha Debates, a production of Qatar Foundation, will feature live debates, digital videos, a TV series, blogs, and podcasts on the planet’s most urgent issues, with the goal of overcoming differences and finding solutions through constructive debate. The original Doha Debates program was televised globally by BBC World News and other outlets from 2005 to 2012.

Doha Debates will debut its new series on February 26 in Doha, Qatar, with a debate on how best to solve the global refugee crisis, with more than 25 million people now forcibly displaced across borders. The program, hosted at Northwestern University in Qatar, will be livestreamed on Twitter.

The debate participants include Muzoon Almellehan, Marc Lamont Hill, Douglas Murray, and Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, and it will be moderated by Ghida Fakhry.

Doha Debates - Season One Preview

#DearWorld, There's never been a more important time to learn to listen and act together. Don't settle for a divided world. Welcome to Doha Debates:

Posted by Doha Debates on Monday, December 3, 2018

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