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Date, Venue & Participants:
On July 13th, 2020, Al-Falah Bangladesh & Council of Minorities (CoM) hosted a Community advocacy meeting at Roufabad Model High School; Roufabad Chittagong. A total number of 18 participants including 4 female and 14 male from seven camps of Raufabad attended the meeting.

Covid-19 protection:
Since March 2020 we are facing challenges to organize meeting due to Corona virus. As it is global pandemic we have maintained all health safety protection before during and after meeting. We have sanitized the meeting hall including chairs and tables. We have checked body temperature of the participants and after that we have sanitized hand and body of the participants and provided hand sanitizer, gloves, mask and hair cap to each participants. Also we have maintained 3 feet social distance in the meeting room and after the meeting one by one participant leaves the room to protect himself herself and others.

Project overview:
The project “Empowerment and inclusion of Urdu Speaking Bangladeshis in the main stream society” is focusing on effective citizenship within The Bihari camp communities. Following a 2008 high court decision, Biharis are recognized as citizens and most of all have obtained national ID cards, which provide the basic proof of citizenship. The aim of the project is empowerment of the community based organization CBO and organized series of advocacy, community dialogue and round table on effective citizenship and inclusion in the main stream society of Bangladesh.

Objective of the meeting:
The purpose of the meeting was to identify the exiting problems inside the camps and community and way forward to the rehabilitation with dignity. The recommendations identified in this meeting would be the basis of future community dialogue, round table and media advocacy discussion.

The meeting opened with an introductory speech made by Mr. Md. Sajid the president of Bangladeshis Urdu Speaking Rights Movement (BUSRM). He has briefly described about BUSRM and the partnership with Al-Falah Bangladesh and Council of Minorities in this project and he has introduced Khalid Hussain as project lead of the project “Empowerment and inclusion of Urdu Speaking Bangladeshis in the main stream society”. Following his introductory speech, project lead, Khalid Hussain has welcomed to all members of the community and community leaders. Mr. Hussain briefly described about the project, legal and socio economical condition of the camp based Bihari- Urdu Speaking Bangladeshis. After that he has opened the existing major camp and community problems in the floor and and engaged the participants to high light and discuss the camp and community problems  and find out the possible way to resolve the issues and problems  and brainstorm the strong recommendations against the camp and community problems of the meeting.

Open Discussion:
Discussions have been started with Mr. Piyar Mohammad a resident of Raufabad colony said that “we are one of the most neglected community in Bangladesh” our major problems are education, health and housing. He also said, our earning source is very limited and we are not able to bear our kids educational expenses. We are living in a small house with a large family member. In Raufabad there is no any government hospital even any ngo health clinic.

A middle age women Ms. Nazma Begum a resident of School Camp Raufabad said” we are living in very small and crowded places”. She mentioned the health issues of the camp dwellers. They can’t afford to visit privet doctor so that they have to depend on the local pharmacy shop inside the camp which is very harmful for our health taking the medicine without doctor prescription.

A middle age man Mr. Javed Alam a resident of Majar Goli Camp Raufabad said, this is first time I using hand sanitizer provided by the meeting organizer. We are living in poverty line. Since March we don’t have job due to covid-19. Camp dwellers have so many problems and within this health, education and economy problems are most vibrant.

A young university student Kamran Ali focused on the education, health and skill development for the young generation of the camp community. He also said so many graduated persons are unemployed they don’t have jobs.

An old person Mohammad Nadim resident of Roufabad Camp described the life of the camp dwellers. He quoted, “poverty is my companion” and why i am saying this because after independent of Bangladesh our generation are neglected in Bangladesh. He also said that I want to mention 3 major problems in our camp are lack of health facilities, lack of education for our children and poverty.

After the participants open discussion Ms. Jesmin Parveen, Councilor  ward number 7 and 8 deliver her speech one video call and she assured to the camp dwellers to continue her and her ruling party’s support for the Bihari Camp dwellers in Chittagong. She was suddenly sick on the meeting day so could not present physically.

Problems Identified:
During our open discussion camp residents identified some most vibrant problem which they are facing in their daily life. Problems are as below:

Problem Cause Demand
Lack of Health facility ·      Government hospital is far away from the Camp

·      Due to poverty they can’t afford privet clinic or Doctor.

·      Camp dwellers are dying without proper treatment

·      Establish a community health clinic

·      Mobile health clinic with and medicine support

Lack of adequate Housing ·      Since 1972 after the independent of Bangladesh they are living in 8-10 feet house with large family member

·      Camps are small in size but a large number of Camp dwellers are living

·      There are no any government initiative to resolve the housing problem of the Camp dwellers

·      Construction of existing house and lane of the camps

·      Permanent rehabilitation with dignity

Quality Education ·      Camp dwellers are living in the poverty line so that it is quite impossible to bear education expenses for their kids

·      Due to child labour kids are dropout after primary level

·      Due to economy crisis  camp students can’t afford coaching and extra tutorial class

·      Establish a tutorial or coaching centre inside the camps

·      Provide educational scholarship

Unemployment ·      Camp graduates are unemployed due to lack of professional education

·      As because of minority community they face discrimination in jobs market

·      Provide soft loan without interest

·      Develop small entrepreneur scheme for the camp youth

Follow-up Advocacy Actions:
A bottom up approach is needed to influence the policy makers. This includes:

  • Community dialogue
  • Roundtable meeting with lawmakers and civil society groups
  • Draft a policy brief
  • Media advocacy with print and electronic media
  • press conference to sensitize media personnel about the rights of Urdu Speaking Bangladeshis
  • Awareness sessions and expert discussions on electronic media, radio programs and TV talk shows
  • Use of social media extensively
  • Organize National Seminar
  • A memorandum can be prepared to be sent to the national and international development partners.