A BRADFORD man who was born and raised in a refugee camp in Bangladesh - growing up without a nationality, basic human rights or an education - has spoken of his dream to become a barrister and inspire others to achieve in the face of adversity.

Ismail Mohammed, 22, is from the Rohingya ethnic group - who say they are indigenous to the south-east Asian country of Myanmar, but have had to battle persecution and statelessness, being described as "one of the most persecuted minorities in the world" by the United Nations.

Since 2016, the Rohingya have been the victims of genocide, which has resulted in the largest human exodus in Asia since the Vietnam War, forcing over a million Rohingya to flee Myanmar.

Ismail, who arrived in Bradford as a ten-year-old, was born to Rohingya parents in Gundam refugee camp, Bangladesh, where he says he lived without having the chance to go to school and was denied basic human rights.

But the Manningham resident - who could not speak a word of English when he arrived in the UK - is currently studying for a Bachelor of Law with honours (LLB) at the University of Bradford and wants to become a qualified barrister and a British Army legal services officer, practicing in criminal, international armed conflict and human rights law.

"Nobody wants to be a refugee - refugees become refugees by facing extremely hard circumstances, not by choice", says Ismail.

"Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. I was born in a refugee camp, I had no right to education, no right to privacy, no right to a nationality - but now I'm very proud of how far I've come.

"My parents fled to Bangladesh in 1981 after facing persecution in Myanmar. Through the UN Gateway Protection programme, we were among the first 199 Rohingya refugees to be welcomed to Bradford under its City of Sanctuary Scheme, in 2009.

"I attended Dixons Allerton Academy and I live in Manningham. I'm very grateful to the people of Bradford for giving us rights and a place to call home. The Rohingya community in Bradford is one of the largest in Europe. Just to have basic rights is a huge thing for us, because we've never had that.

"Growing up without an education was heart-breaking. It affected my confidence too. Support from my teachers allowed me to learn English and to read and write when I was 14."

Despite only learning English eight years ago, Ismail is noticeably articulate, as he explains how his personal journey - despite all the obstacles it has presented - has inspired him to help others who may be experiencing similar situations.

"My parents faced genocide and discrimination, so that's why I've always wanted to be a barrister, so I can help the world achieve justice", he says.

"The Rohingya people are still seeking justice. There are many vulnerable refugees at risk from death, disease and mental health problems.

"There are basic health facilities in the camps, but nothing like we have in the UK, and the Rohingya are not allowed to travel outside the camps unless they have a life-threatening emergency."

However, Ismail is optimistic that the future for the Rohingya people, in the UK at least, can be brighter.

"My sister, Omme Kulsum, who is 20, is studying nursing and wants to be a qualified nurse, and I have cousins who want to become barristers and solicitors here in the UK, too", he says,

"From Bradford's Rohingya community, there is also a girl named Jasmin Akter, who captained the England cricket team at junior level and was named Bradford Sportswoman of the Year for 2020.

"We as a community are trying to make a huge contribution and be valuable assets to this country.

"Since resettling in the UK, we have so many more chances, aspirations and ambitions."