Sheikh Hasina: A leader with courage, determination and humanity

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Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina

In the chronicles of contemporary history, few leaders have exemplified the extraordinary compassion and resilience demonstrated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh.

Her unwavering commitment to humanitarian values became vividly apparent during the Rohingya crisis of 2017, when over 1.20 million Rohingya refugees sought refuge in Bangladesh, escaping ethnic cleansing and violence in Myanmar.

Bangladesh, under Sheikh Hasina’s leadership, responded to the Rohingya crisis with unparalleled humanity. Despite being a densely populated and economically developing nation with its share of challenges, Bangladesh opened its borders to provide sanctuary to the persecuted Rohingya. However, this act of compassion was not met with proportionate support from the international community.

Providing shelter to over a million refugees posed significant challenges for Bangladesh, straining its resources and infrastructure. Sheikh Hasina’s government, however, exhibited resilience and determination, delivering humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya in their time of need. The challenges were acknowledged, but they did not deter Bangladesh from fulfilling its moral and ethical obligation to protect the vulnerable.

Rohingya crisis, initially confined to the borders of Myanmar and Bangladesh, soon transcended regional boundaries, becoming a global humanitarian concern. Sheikh Hasina’s exceptional response garnered international attention, prompting the global community to recognize the urgency of collective action in resolving the crisis and seeking justice for the victims.

In December 2018, the United States recognized the Rohingya situation as a “priority” and pledged to increase the number of resettlements through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) in fiscal year 2024. The U.S. Department of State emphasized the importance of third countries expanding Rohingya resettlement, highlighting the need for a comprehensive and international approach to address the crisis.

The Nobel Peace Prize has historically been awarded to individuals who significantly contribute to peace and humanity. Sheikh Hasina’s unwavering dedication to providing sanctuary to the Rohingya amidst a dire humanitarian crisis embodies the spirit of peace, compassion, and humanity. Honoring her with the Nobel Peace Prize would not only acknowledge her exceptional humanitarianism but also highlight the significance of global solidarity and empathy in addressing the world’s most pressing humanitarian crises.

In the face of contemporary global challenges, the Rohingya crisis underscores the urgent need for compassion, solidarity, and an unwavering commitment to humanity. Sheikh Hasina’s leadership and Bangladesh’s unparalleled generosity in sheltering over a million Rohingya refugees stand as a testament to enduring compassion and peace. Sheikh Hasina’s humanitarian legacy is not confined to the borders of Bangladesh; it reverberates globally, urging leaders and citizens alike to recognize the importance of collective action and empathy in the pursuit of a more humane world.

Recently the 2023 Global Refugee Forum served as a platform for the United States to announce 26 unique commitments toward eight multi-stakeholder pledges, showcasing its leadership in meeting the needs of refugees and host communities during this time of historic displacement. The U.S. commitment to continue using its experience with resettling Rohingya refugees and its positions within international networks is a step toward encouraging other nations to expand or create new third-country solutions for Rohingya refugees.

The U.S. has also pledged support through its Welcome Corps at Work, a new labor mobility program for refugees, with a specific focus on Rohingya refugees gaining access to employment in the United States. This commitment not only addresses the immediate needs of the refugees but also contributes to their long-term integration and self-sufficiency.

In addition to employment opportunities, the United States has committed to supporting efforts to expand programs offering numeracy, literacy, and vocational training, as well as formal skills certification to Rohingya refugees and host communities. Engaging with the private sector to secure financial, in-kind, or technical support for these programs reflects a holistic approach to addressing the multifaceted challenges faced by the Rohingya community.

By strengthening internal coherence in humanitarian and development assistance, the United States aims to build the capacity of partners to address the unique health and protection needs of Rohingya refugees. This comprehensive approach recognizes the interconnectedness of various aspects of the refugee crisis, emphasizing the importance of a coordinated and sustained effort.

As of December 2023, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that more than 130 million people are forcibly displaced or stateless worldwide. The unprecedented increase in global forced displacement emphasizes the urgency of broadening the base of support for refugees worldwide. The United States, in reaffirming its commitment to the Global Compact on Refugees, underscores its dedication to championing refugee protection and solutions.

In the face of contemporary global challenges, Sheikh Hasina’s leadership during the Rohingya crisis stands as a beacon of hope and a reminder of the importance of compassion and solidarity. The recognition of her efforts with the Nobel Peace Prize would not only honor an individual leader but also symbolize the collective responsibility of the international community to address humanitarian crises with empathy and decisive action.

The Rohingya crisis serves as a poignant reminder that in times of unprecedented displacement, compassion, and global solidarity are indispensable. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership during this crisis, coupled with the international community’s renewed commitment, signifies a crucial step toward a more compassionate and humane world. As we navigate the challenges of our time, the Rohingya crisis urges us to reflect on the power of empathy, cooperation, and collective action in building a better future for all.

Author’s bio: Tajul Islam is a senior journalist from Bangladesh writing on local, regional and global issues.

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