4 Rohingya photographers living in Bangladesh win 2023 Nansen Award
Four Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar have been jointly recognised as the 2023 regional winners for Asia and the Pacific of the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award.
The storytellers – one of whom was born in Kutupalong camp to refugee parents, while the other three were forced to flee their country and find safety and shelter in Bangladesh in 2017 – find and tell stories from their community by using their smartphones and cameras, sharing the documented stories on social media, reads a press release.
By portraying the lives of their fellow refugees truthfully and with empathy, Abdullah Habib, Sahat Zia Hero, Salim Khan and Shahida Win encourage people around the world to learn about the Rohingya communities through the eyes of Rohingya refugees themselves.
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The awards were presented at a ceremony in Geneva on 13 December at the Global Refugee Forum 2023.
In their absence, a recorded message from the four winners was played during the event.
The four received a certificate in recognition for their outstanding service and dedication, and while there is no direct financial reward, their humanitarian programmes and outreach work in the camps will be further supported and strengthened.
“Through my lens, I try to capture the strength and courage of Rohingya refugees, illuminating our stories to the world,” Salim says.
“There are so many stories to tell here,” Sumbul Rizvi, UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh says.
“Stories of hope, love, loss and longing for a life back home in Myanmar. The extraordinary images that these four storytellers share with the world provide a fascinating window into the world of the Rohingya, a view that might otherwise never be seen outside these camps.”
Their hope is to eventually bring about change for the Rohingya who remain displaced in Bangladesh. “We don’t want to be a forgotten community,” says Zia.
“I want people around the world to see the Rohingya people as human beings, like everyone else.” Abdullah adds: “Through these narratives, we try to amplify the voice of Rohingya, building a bridge to connect the outer world.”
The four had their images published in international media, contributed to photography magazines or exhibitions, and gained thousands of followers on social media.
In addition to amplifying Rohingya voices through their own work, they also conduct workshops to train others.
They have expanded the community of refugee storytellers able to use and understand film, photography, and poetry to express themselves and share crucial information on public health and how to respond to the fires and floods that regularly affect the camp.
“Rohingya women are more vulnerable in my community,” Shahida underlines. “I want to be their voice, to share their stories through my lens and to describe their feelings through my poetry lines”.
Established in 1954, the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award honors individuals, groups and organizations who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect refugees, as well as internally displaced and stateless people, reports UNB.
Over the years, more than 60 individuals, groups and organizations have received the Award for their extraordinary service and outstanding work for people forced to flee their homes.
Since 2017, Regional Winners have also been recognized for their humanitarian efforts.