Published: 2018-08-19 12:43
Last Updated: 2018-08-19 13:20
Palestinian-Dutch supermodel Gigi Hadid took time out from her busy schedule to meet with dozens of Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh. The 23-year-old model visited the South Asian country on Friday as part of her work with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Gigi documented her trip to the Jamtoli Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar on social media.
“En route to the Jamtoli Refugee Camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh,” she wrote on Instagram. “As well as providing for the Rohingya refugees, UNICEF supports the host communities in need, including an estimated 28,000 people given access to better sanitation and safe water through the WASH Program, and 53,000 locals have been supported in educational activities.”
Gigi posted pictures of the Rohingya children she met at the camp, while explaining the difficult living condition they must bear with on a daily basis.
“Across all the camps, 1.3 million people currently require humanitarian assistance; more than half of them are children,” Gigi wrote.
At the camp, the “women/girl-friendly” zone was a must-visit for the humanitarian starlet. This is the place where women and girls receive a basic education and learn different skills, such as sewing.
“We spoke about their personal stories and hardships, what they enjoy and benefit from currently in the refugee camps, what they still need, and what they hope for their futures. Their strength, bravery and desire to learn and better their lives and the lives of their children is inspiring and encourages us @unicefusa to continue to find new ways to support these amazing human beings during this crisis,” she wrote.
On Saturday, Gigi visited Rohingya children at UNICEF’s child-friendly space in Camp 9 of the Kutupalong Balukhali Refugee Camp. The model said that the purpose of the camp is to “let kids be kids.”
“As well as psychosocial work to help them get through trauma through activities like art, they also can play sports, learn music, and learn to read and draw (some for the first time in their lives). Separate from educational spaces, the importance of these spaces is huge due to the fact that refugee children can spend a majority of the day working, usually collecting firewood from miles away so their families can cook, taking care of siblings, helping around the house etc., and here they can just focus on having fun,” she wrote.
Gigi is the daughter of a Palestinian refugee, Mohamed Hadid, who immigrated to the US where he became a billionaire real estate developer.
Gigi and her sister, Bella, have, on many occasions, made it their duty to stand up for humanitarian issues. In January, the sisters joined a demonstration which protested US President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which targeted travellers from Muslim-majority countries.
The Rohingya refugee crisis began in 2017, when hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled out of their homes in Myanmar (Burma) to neighbouring Bangladesh.
At the start of 2017, there were around one million Rohingya people in Myanmar. They are one of the many ethnic minorities in the Buddhist-majority country.
The Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for generations: they have their own language and culture, however, the government of Myanmar does not recognize them as citizens.
In fact, several years ago, the Rohingya people were denied citizenship and even excluded them from the 2014 census, because they see them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
The military offensive against the Rohingya people in Rakhine, Myanmar, has been described by the United Nations as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing."