A total of 400 community advocates, a group initiated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and its local partner PULSE Bangladesh, recently started working to bring positive changes in the Rohingya camps.
Samuda Begum, one of the advocates, wants to ensure that her community’s women are aware about their human rights, early marriage, household violence, and physical and sexual assault, so that they can live with dignity and respect. Standing on the podium, the middle-aged Samuda, a Rohingya woman living in one of the refugee camps, expressed her wish to work as a community advocate.
With the slogan ‘Coming Together is a Beginning, Keeping Together is Progress and Working Together is Success’, the community advocates started to work with Rohingyas and host community to sensitise and raise awareness on July 24, through a programme launched at camp 9. IOM Deputy Chief of Mission in Bangladesh Manuel Pereira said through this initiative, IOM is working hard to prevent gender-based violence in Bangladesh. “This initiative aims to build a drive for peaceful and safe relationships, and for a community in which every person in camp or local area can feel equally valued. Community advocates will make this happen as we provide skills building and learning to increase their recognition in respective communities.” Additional Commissioner Kazi Mohammad Mozammel Hoque from the office of Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner welcomed the move.The community advocates will support core community mobilisation teams in 100 sub-blocks in several Rohingya camps. In every block, four community advocates – a woman, a girl, a boy and a man – are enlisted and have committed to at least one hour a week to facilitate prevention activities and one day a month for training. The advocates will reach at least 2,000 people regularly, allowing the community to lead, inspire and influence positive change in their own lives. Along with the refugee community, IOM and PULSE Bangladesh are also working to enlist 320 community advocates at the local host community areas with the same objective. “IOM and PULSE’s community advocacy initiative will bring together community advocates, collaborating community groups and structures, community leaders, local authorities, community actors, NGO partners UN agencies and government to showcase the various services interlinked and needed for successful community mobilisation,” said IOM Protection Programme Manager Chissey Mueller.