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Refugee “Instagrammers” Win Prestigious Social-Media Award

Three Rohingya refugees, Fortify Rights, and Doha Debates win Shorty Award

(BANGKOK, November 24, 2020)—Fortify Rights, Doha Debates, and three Rohingya refugee photographers in Bangladesh won a prestigious Shorty Award for promoting photography in the world’s largest refugee camp, said Fortify Rights today. The group received the top honor in the category of “Best Work for Immigration and Refugees” during the 5th Annual Shorty Social Good Awards.

The group was also a finalist in the category of “Storytelling.”

Many people define the Rohingya by genocide and the crimes they suffer, but the community is much more than that,” said Fortify Rights CEO Matthew Smith. “This project celebrates Rohingya life, and today we celebrate the media fellows, who deserve all the recognition for their beautiful work.”

Since 2018, Fortify Rights, in partnership with Doha Debates, provided on-the-ground photography and media skills-training for three young Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh who are survivors of genocide in Myanmar. The organizations equipped the three “media fellows”—Dil Kayas, Omal Khair, and Azimul Hasson—with mobile phones. They have since been documenting their lives in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps on Instagram, amassing thousands of followers.

“Thank you, Shorty Awards, for giving us this award,” said Dil Kayas in her pre-recorded acceptance speech, which was shown at the invitation-only award ceremony. “Now we can share our daily lives in the refugee camps. We can share this with the world.”

The Shorty Social Good Awards is an awards program created “to raise global awareness around the positive impact that brands, agencies, and nonprofits can have on society.” Winners are selected based on the creativity, originality, effectiveness, and impact of their projects as judged by a diverse group of luminaries in the internet, advertising, media, and entertainment industries.

The Shorty Award for “Best Work for Immigration and Refugees” honors a program, project, or initiative working for immigrants and refugees’ social and economic justice. Eligible applicants include programs and organizations that offer tools for protection, survival, recovery, transition, education, legal services, and more.

Fortify Rights aims to expand the media fellows project to other communities of refugees.

In his pre-recorded acceptance speech, Azimul Hasson said: “Thank you so much, Shorty Awards, for this award. This project is important to us as well as our community. We can now show what life in a refugee camp is like. We are very grateful to receive this award. It’s encouraging for us. We will keep doing our work.”

The media fellows are on Instagram at @dilkayas, @omalkha, and @azimulhass and Fortify Rights and Doha Debates are at @FortifyRights and @DohaDebates.

"I want to take a moment to extend my sincere thanks for the award you have presented us," said Omal Khair in her acceptance speech. "Receiving this Shorty Award is a great honor for all of us . . . This award gives us more confidence in our work. Thank you so much."

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