The Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ), Brac University, in collaboration with the BRAC James P. Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH) organised a virtual Inception Ceremony on October 11, 2020 to launch the “Bridging Communities in Cox’s Bazar: Mitigating Risks and Promoting Gender, Governance and Localization of Humanitarian Responses in COVID-19 Era” project. The project is funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and seeks to provide critical evidence to influence policies and interventions that will promote tolerance, peace building and encourage civic engagement in addition to facilitating psycho-social wellbeing within and among the Rohingya and host communities in Cox’s Bazar.
With around 70 participants, having experts and practitioners from government, academia, humanitarian agencies and civil society, including the event’s notable guest Mohammad Shamsu Douza, Additional Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner; Professor Vincent Chang, Vice Chancellor of Brac University; and Dr. Navsharan Singh, Senior Programme Specialist, IDRC. The event put forth important discussions about the impact of COVID-19 on the FDMN and hosting communities.
Ms. Shekufa, Founder of the Rohingya Women Empowerment and Advocacy Network (RWEAN), and Mr. Mohammed Shahjahan, Elected Member of Union Parishad highlighted the uptick in social instability and violence since the outbreak of the pandemic on their respective communities and connected these trends to the lack of work opportunities, education, and proper healthcare system. They also highlighted the importance of Brac University’s project in mitigating some of the risks posed to women and adolescents, who are among the ‘most vulnerable groups’ (MVGs).
The “Bridging Communities in Cox’s Bazar” project is in its first phase of its three-year timeline which started in August 2020. The objective for the first year is to raising awareness and preparedness around the COVID-19 pandemic in Rohingya camps and host communities. Thus, moving forward the project will now:
- Incorporate feedback from preliminary findings into final project design and planned activities.
- Establish a technical advisory committee (TAC) comprising of policymakers and humanitarian actors.
- Engage community institutions, leaders and MVGs to actively participate in the project and lead activities in their communities through a workshop.
- Conduct formative and baseline research.
The inception meeting concluded with final remarks from the Dr. Sabina Faiz Rashid, Dean of JPGSPH, and Mr. Manzoor Hasan OBE, Executive Director of CJP. Both highlighted Brac University’s important work in facilitating this research-to-action based project in conjunction with associated partners and stakeholders.