DHAKA – Soccer player Makoto Hasebe, who serves as Japan’s national UNICEF goodwill ambassador, visited a Muslim Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh on Thursday to call greater attention to the refugees’ plight.
At a press briefing in Dhaka following his visit, the Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder lamented that children at the camp on the border with Myanmar, from which a U.N. refugee agency says more than 720,000 Rohingya have fled since August 2017, are “deprived of” proper education and medical facilities.
Earlier in the day, the former Japan captain played soccer with Rohingya children on a muddy field at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, one of the largest of its kind where roughly 600,000 refugees live.
Hasebe, who also visited a Syrian refugee camp in Greece in November as the goodwill ambassador of the Japan Committee for the U.N. Children’s Fund, told reporters that he was surprised by the scale of the refugee concentration in Cox’s Bazar.
Hasebe said he wants to urge the world community to tackle the refugee problem and solve it as soon as possible.
The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. Many have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since August 2017 to escape a military crackdown in the Southeast Asian country.
Many fear for their safety if they were to return as part of a stalled repatriation process agreed to between Myanmar and Bangladesh late last year.