Refugee stories, their plights need to be shared globally, says the UNHCR envoy
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and prominent South Korean actor Jung Woo-sung has said it is important that they – celebrities -do not force people to donate or support refugees, but should continue to persuade people which will naturally lead to increase funding for refugees, particularly for situations like those of Rohingya people.
“For me as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, it is my role to encourage individuals and people to continue raising funds and give funds for the refugees. And celebrities like me could also personally make donation,” he said in an interview with Dhaka Courier.
The world is facing so many competing crises today and fundraising remains a big challenge. Jung thinks UNHCR and other partner agencies have their specific needs to support the situation.
“I have never seen a situation, an emergency situation that was fully funded,” said the South Korean film producer and model adding that it is very important to continue the support for Rohingyas. Jung adds: “This brings me back to Bangladesh for my second time.”
He laid emphasis on a ‘strategic support’ plan for the Rohingya people and their host community in Bangladesh amid the absence of a political solution to Rohingya crisis.
“Although there was a great support from the Bangladesh government as well the host community, I still see a lack of political solution for the Rohingya refugees,” Jung said after completing his second visit to Bangladesh during which he saw the Rohingya situation on the ground.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.2 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar with around 741,000 fleeing Myanmar since August 2017, officials say.
Despite living in Myanmar for generations, the Rohingya people lost their citizenship following a change in Myanmar laws in 1982.
Talking about his role in helping these vulnerable people, the UNHCR envoy said there are people who do not even get to know about them as the conflicts continue other parts of the world.
“There’s a need for everyone to know about these problems globally. So, my role is to share the stories to people in Korea and around Asia and the plights of refugees, which I believe, may lead to a solution for them,” said Jung who has undertaken extensive awareness and fundraising activities for Rohingyas that he has met in Cox’s Bazar twice.
He thanked the government of Bangladesh and the local community expressing his deep respect for showing the generosity by giving Rohingya people shelter safely.
The UNHCR Goodwill envoy expressed satisfaction over the progress made so far though he still sees a lack of political solution for the Rohingya people.
Responding to a question, he said the number of “persons of concern” (refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people and returnees) globally was 45 million. “Now in 2019, the number has increased deeply to almost 70 million.”
According to UNHCR 2018 data, an unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.
Back in 2017, the UNHCR envoy said, his first visit to Bangladesh to meet the Rohingya people was planned because Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, expressed deep concerns over the crisis while visiting South Korea, which needed a deep attention from Asia as well as the world.
“So, he asked me as Goodwill Ambassador to help spread the urgent request of the Rohingya refugees. And that’s why I had visited Bangladesh. It was immediately after the mass influx and my impression about the Rohingya refugees was - it was in a state of chaos,” the envoy said sharing the memories of his first visit.
“Luckily, I could reunite with the two families I met in 2017, supported by UNHCR to identify them,” he said.
This time the two families met him very willingly, he said adding that the elderly mother of one of the families spoke quite freely and expressed satisfaction and gratitude about the life and the living conditions in the camps.
A Joint Response Plan (JRP), launched in February 2019 in Geneva, has estimated US$ 920 million funds to meet humanitarian needs of Rohingya people and vulnerable Bangladesh host community in 2019. As of mid-May, only 18 percent of the required fund is managed.
The film star said he is very happy to hear that there are many fans in Bangladesh. “And I’m actually honoured to know of it,” he said adding that he is not sure through which movies or films the fans got to know of his work.
“But, I’ll continue my career as an actor and, I think, I have my obligations to continue pleasing the fans,” Jung, also a film producer and director, said.
Responding to a question, he said his new movie is expected to be there sometime around September. “I also have many other films lined up. I hope, you’ll get to see them and you won’t be disappointed.”