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Rohingya Youth Risk Perilous Sea Voyages in Pursuit of Education

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Muhammad Jawad
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Rohingya Youth Risk Perilous Sea Voyages in Pursuit of Education

On the precipice of adulthood, 18-year-old Rohingya refugee, Muhammed Hasson, undertook a perilous sea journey from Bangladesh to Indonesia. His goal? To pursue his dream of studying computer science engineering at a university. The driving force behind this dangerous voyage is not unique to Hasson but echoes the desires of many young Rohingyas who, despite facing severe repression in Myanmar six years ago, refuse to let go of their dreams of higher education.

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Escaping Repression: A Quest for Education

Myanmar's military crackdown in 2017 unleashed a wave of violence and discrimination against the Rohingya, a Muslim minority group in the predominantly Buddhist country. This brutal campaign led to an exodus of over 740,000 Rohingyas into neighboring Bangladesh, marking one of the most significant refugee crises globally. Life in Bangladesh, however, is far from easy. Rohingyas face a dire lack of education facilities, fear criminal gangs, and are denied access to local schools or universities.

Braving the Seas for a Better Future

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The desperate pursuit of education and a better life has led some Rohingya youth to brave dangerous sea voyages, often heading towards Malaysia. These journeys are fraught with risks, including exploitation by human traffickers and hazardous sea conditions. Despite these perils, the determination of Rohingya youth to attain an education and improve their circumstances remains undeterred. This resilience is beautifully encapsulated in the story of Jannat, a 14-year-old Rohingya girl harboring dreams of becoming a doctor. Even as she navigates a childhood marred by crises in Kutupalong, the world's largest refugee camp, her pursuit of education continues.

Call for Action: Sustained Support and Solutions

The UN refugee agency has urged the international community to bolster efforts for sustained financial support and solutions for forcibly displaced Rohingyas and the Bangladeshi communities hosting them. The UNHCR and its partners have called for $876 million to reach 1.47 million people, offering them food, shelter, healthcare, access to drinkable water, protection services, education, and livelihood opportunities. Stories like that of Abdullahi Mire, a former child refugee from Somalia, underscore the transformative power of education. After spending 23 years in the Dadaab refugee complex in northeastern Kenya, Mire graduated with a diploma in journalism and public relations. Inspired by his experiences, he founded the Refugee Youth Education Hub (RYEH) in 2018, dedicated to refugee education and youth development. As the plight of the Rohingyas enters its sixth year, the pressing need for increased regional support and protection for these refugees becomes increasingly evident.

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