Pictures of pain show resilience

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2007, 12:00am

Despite their suffering, refugees in Bangladesh retain a sense of dignity captured in singer Paul Wong's photos

The plight of refugees in Bangladesh is vividly illustrated in a collection of images by amateur photographer and popular Hong Kong singer Paul Wong Kwun-chung.

The photographs are part of a travelling exhibition called the Rohingya Refugee Photo Exhibition at Olympian City, Kowloon from October 8 to 12.

The aim of the Medecins Sans Frontieres Hong Kong (MSF HK) exhibition is to raise public awareness of the problem of refugees around the world, and in Asia in particular.

Wong visited Bangladesh in August on the invitation of MSF HK to document the lives of refugees living in makeshift camps in the township of Teknaf.

The exhibition comprises more than 30 photographs highlighting poor conditions in the camp, child refugees and the work of MSF HK's volunteer doctors and staff.

Although the refugees live in appalling conditions, Wong's photos avoid sentimentality.

'Both our volunteer doctors and Paul wanted to focus on the refugees' resilient side,' MSF HK senior press and public affairs officer Hoo Lai-ting said. 'Despite their hardships and privations, they have a strong will to live and a sense of dignity.

'The refugees Paul visited are the Rohingya people who fled Myanmar 15 years ago to come to Bangladesh because of violence and persecution in their homeland,' Ms Hoo said.

'But because of the indifference of the two governments in Myanmar and Bangladesh, the refugees are in limbo.

'Forced into the southernmost tip of Bangladesh, the Rohingya people are denied refugee status and left struggling in squalid camps with no water supplies, electricity or medical care.'

There will be special guided tours for schools to help students understand the refugee crisis in Asia.

Ms Hoo hopes students will compare their own lives to those of the refugees and realise how lucky they are to live in prosperous Hong Kong.