Rohingya refugee camp recreated in British shopping centre

Ansar Ahmed Ullah
Contributing Editor,Shottobani

Londonঃ To draw attention to plight of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh during monsoon season the British Red Cross has organised an exhibition to bring the world’s largest refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, to Westfield Stratford City, East London, for a week.

British shoppers were given a peek at life in the world’s largest refugee camp on 12 August when the Red Cross tried to recreate the jungles of southern Bangladesh, home to nearly a million displaced Rohingya, in a London shopping centre.

The interactive installation by the British Red Cross allows shoppers to see what the situation is like for the refugees, who fled Myanmar in their hundreds of thousands during a brutal military crackdown in 2017.

Nearly two years on, the Red Cross said it wanted to ensure the public did not forget the Rohingyas’ plight as the monsoon rains lash their flimsy shelters. “We want people to emerge from the installation with a sense of understanding that this humanitarian crisis on an epic scale is still continuing, two years on,” spokesman Paul Amadi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “You have an incredibly fragile community that is increasingly at risk.”

The exhibition in East London’s Westfield mall features a typical shelter in the Bangladesh camps, home to more than 900,000 refugees from the Rohingya ethnic minority and includes video interviews with the residents.

The Red Cross is working with the Bangladeshi Red Crescent to assist hundreds of thousands with shelter, clean water, food, health care and emotional support in the camp.

Myanmar has said it has been ready to accept returning refugees since January but the UN says conditions are not yet right for their return. The Rohingya say they want guarantees for their safety and to be recognised as citizens.

Mr Amadi said he hoped the installation would give shoppers a personal sense of the challenges faced by Rohingya refugees as the charity appeals for more donations to help those in the camp. “What we’ve tried to design is a truly, fully immersive experience which we would characterise as an assault on the senses, which tries to bring to life the journey that millions of people went through,” he said.

From 12 to 18 August, Red Cross be giving shoppers at Westfield Stratford City the opportunity to experience the world’s largest refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. You will be able to follow the journey of the hundreds of thousands of people who were forced to flee Myanmar. The interactive experience recreates the terrains, obstacles and threats that people faced along the way. It also allows you to see, touch and hear elements of camp life, and hear stories from refugees. You will be guided by the voices of real people living in the camp, meeting these inspiring people who’ve faced unimaginable dangers to survive, with a great number of challenges still ahead.

In August 2017 more than 740,000 people were forced to flee their homes with nothing and seek safety in Bangladesh after violence erupted in Rakhine state in Myanmar. The majority of those who survived the journey and crossed the border into Bangladesh now live in the largest refugee camp in the world. As the emergency reaches its second anniversary, see what life is like for hundreds of thousands of refugees in Cox’s Bazar.

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