Two months since outbreak of violence in Myanmar, Rohingya refugee children still at acute risk


Two months since outbreak of violence in Myanmar, Rohingya refugee children still at acute risk

On 16 October 2017, Rohingya refugees including women and children cross into Bangladesh at Palong Khali in Cox’s Bazar district. Between 10000 and 15000 newly arrived Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar crossed into Bangladesh, and are stuck in Palong Khali in Cox’s Bazar district approximately 2 kms from the border with Myanmar.  Thousands of people are queuing up on pedestrian road in the midst of paddy fields and waterbodies in a queue approximately 1 km long. Thousands among them are children. People making long journeys by walking and crossing the river are in desperate condition. They are exhausted, dehydrated, hungry and are urgently in need of water. People are getting sick due to dehydration, while lots are also traumatized. Some children have been separated from their families during their journey. UNICEF has mobilized resources for the newly arrived Rohingyas. Two water trucks carrying 6000 litres of water and 2000 jerrycans are on the site for distribution. Distribution started this morning by boat to the refugees located near the border area.  Another 20,000 bottles of water each containing 1.5 litre are on the way from Chittagong. UNICEF is prepositioning two mobile child friendly spaces at the site for assessment and family tracing and reunification. UNICEF also plans to mobilize immunization and nutrition screening for this new influx.  Two UNICEF nutrition and health teams are currently on the ground.

As of 15 October 2017, at least 795,000 Rohingyas are estimated to be sheltering in Bangladesh, having fled violence and persecution in Myanmar. Violence which began on 25 August has triggered a massive and swift refugee influx across the border - an estimated 582,000 people have arrived. These refugees have joined some 213,000 people who were already in Bangladesh following earlier waves of displacement.  The Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar is highly vulnerable, many having experienced severe trauma, and are now living in extremely difficul

© UNICEF/UN0136209/LeMoyne

On 16 October 2017, Rohingya refugees including women and children cross into Bangladesh at Palong Khali in Cox’s Bazar district.

NEW YORK/GENEVA/DHAKA/HONG KONG, 23 October 2017 – Nearly two months since Rohingya families began fleeing en masse to Bangladesh, thousands of children and women are still without basic lifesaving services, UNICEF said today.

The warning comes as representatives of donor governments and humanitarian organizations meet in Geneva for a pledging conference aimed at drumming up resources for what remains a severely under-funded emergency.

“The Rohingya refugee crisis shows no sign of abating,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh. “The needs of refugees and those of the communities hosting them are increasing at a much faster pace than our capacity to respond. We need more resources and we need them now.”

Close to 1.2 million people – including new arrivals, Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar in previous escalations of violence, and vulnerable Bangladeshi communities – need humanitarian assistance in Cox’s Bazaar. Some 720,000 of them are children.

An estimated 450,000 Rohingya children aged 4-18 years old need education services, 270,000 of them from among the new arrivals.

Nearly 17,000 children with severe acute malnutrition need inpatient and outpatient treatment, and 120,000 pregnant and nursing women need nutritious supplementary food.

There is an acute shortage of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in the refugee settlements, with an average of 100 people per latrine.

“Given the current population density and poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, any outbreak of cholera or acute watery diarrhoea, which are endemic in Bangladesh, could kill thousands of people residing in temporary settlements,” Beigbeder said.

Measles has been reported among the settled population as well as new arrivals. UNICEF is working towards accelerating the routine immunization schedule, which will include the host community.

There are also reports of parents and caregivers who say they are unable to care for their children because of their vulnerable emotional and psychological state. Many adolescents have taken on additional roles as caregivers and providers, helping with distributions, collecting firewood and caring for their elderly relatives or siblings. At least 900 children are living in child-headed households.

UNICEF is working with partners to provide vulnerable children with life-saving support.

Since 25 August:
• UNICEF and partners have screened nearly 50,000 children under-five for malnutrition. Over 1,500 were found to suffer from severe acute malnutrition and almost all have received treatment.

• Approximately 69,000 children aged 6-59 months received Vitamin A supplementation during the supplementary measles, rubella and polio immunization campaigns.

• Close to 7,500 pregnant and nursing women received infant and young child feeding information critical to reducing undernutrition in infants and young children.

• More than 700,000 people, including 180,000 children aged 1 to 5 years old, were vaccinated against cholera in a campaign launched on October 10. A second round will start early November  to vaccinate 180,000 children against cholera and 220,000 against polio, both potentially fatal diseases that can spread quickly in camp settings.

• UNICEF and partners have reached 128,000 with drinking water, 190,000 with sanitation services, and 37,000 with hygiene kits and jerry-cans.

• More than 35,000 children are being reached with psychosocial support in 106 child friendly spaces.

• UNICEF has reached more than 22,000 children, including 8,500 new arrivals, with learning opportunities.

The needs are massive and growing, but funding remains extremely limited. UNICEF has received only 11 per cent of the HK$592.8 million it needs to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to affected children and women.