The seventh annual Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF 2019), a Varkey Foundation initiative, opened at The Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, UAE, with an emotional plea by Rohingyas to support the education of refugee children, whose only hope for the future rests on it.
Speaking on the first day of the Forum, Ahmed Ullah, organiser of peace rallies and co-writer of ‘I Am Rohingya’ and Zainab Arkani, who runs the world’s first Rohingya school in Canada, said ensuring the education of the children is the only way forward to rebuild their lives.
Ahmed Ullah, who was born in a refugee camp following earlier purges by the government, made it to Canada in 2009. He is now a youth coordinator of the Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative.
"I am begging every single one of you... you can change those lives. I am proof that refugees can do anything as long as you give them a chance," he told an audience at the Atlantis complex on Saturday.
“They just want an opportunity to contribute to society."
The Rohingya people are a Muslim minority group residing in the western state of Rakhine, Myanmar, formerly known as Arakan. The religion of this ethnic group is a variation of the Sunni religion. The Rohingya people are considered "stateless entities", as the Myanmar government does not recognize them as an ethnic group.
Thus, they lack legal protection from the Government of Myanmar, are regarded as refugees from Bangladesh, and face strong hostility in the country. The have been described as one of the most persecuted people on earth.
In 2017, more than 700,000 ethnic Rohingya were driven out of their homes in Rakhine province. Many settled in the town of Cox's Bazar, just over the Bangladesh border, in what the UN says is among the densest concentrations of refugees today.