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IOM’s Rohingya Cultural Memory Centre work in display at Westminster, in the House of Commons
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is hosting a four day-long exhibition - "Arar Rosom, Arar Elom” the Rohingya’s “Our Culture, Our Wisdom”, at the Houses of Parliament in the UK, showcasing the richness of the Rohingya culture and traditions.
For decades the Rohingya have periodically made their way to Bangladesh to escape persecution. In August 2017 thousands of Rohingya were compelled to leave their homes in Myanmar's Rakhine State due to armed attacks, and widespread violence and human rights abuses. They settled in Cox’s Bazar, which since 2017 has become home to almost one million Rohingya refugees, making it the largest refugee settlement in the world. Due to their protracted displacement, the art, culture and traditions of Rohingyas are at risk of being forgotten.
IOM has been on the ground in Cox’s Bazar since 2013, providing vital humanitarian assistance to Rohingya refugees including mental health support, using innovative approaches that combine fostering psychosocial well-being, safeguarding, and preserving cultural identity.
The exhibition showcases unique stories and items handcrafted by Rohingya refugees at the Rohingya Cultural Memory Centre, where the International Organization for Migration (IOM) seeks to promote healing, ensure the continuity of their cultural heritage for future generations, and create a powerful tool for self-advocacy.
This exclusive event is kindly hosted in the House of Commons, Upper Waiting Hall, by Rushanara Ali MP and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rohingya in the UK’s House of Commons.
The opening ceremony of the event took place on Tuesday 12th December, with contributions from the host MP, the chief of missions of IOM in the UK, Christa Rottensteiner, and in Bangladesh, Abdusattor Esoev, and the Director General for Humanitarian and Development at the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), Melinda Bohannon.
The needs of the Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar remain extensive and meeting them depends entirely on continued support. “There are one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, with half of them being children. They have been in displacement for many years, and the conditions are worsening as they are living in highly congested and disaster-prone camps," explains Abdusattor Esoev, Chief of Mission of IOM Bangladesh. "It is crucial to understand in this context that Rohingya are almost entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance. However, the challenge we face now is that funding has significantly decreased, resulting in people receiving less than the minimum humanitarian assistance they should be getting."
In this context, the impact on mental health represents a significant challenge, which led IOM to come up with creative and innovative solutions, such as the Rohingya Cultural Memory Centre. “This exhibition is an opportunity to draw attention to a humanitarian crisis that is at risk of becoming a forgotten one, in the prestigious context of the UK Parliament,” said Christa Rottensteiner, Chief of Mission of IOM UK.
“Cox’s Bazar remains the largest camp in the world, and IOM’s innovative work there is a positive example for how we can support the mental health of refugees while preserving the cultural heritage of minorities who have lived in displacement for a prolonged period of time,” she added.
Exhibition opening times:
- Upper Waiting Hall, House of Commons (access from Visitor Entrance - Cromwell Green).
- 9 am - 9 pm
For more information please contact: