On 7 September 2017, newly arrived Rohingya refugees sit at Shamlapur beach in Cox’s Bazar district, Chittagong Division in Bangladesh, after traveling for 5 hours in a boat across the open waters of the Bay of Bengal.
COX’S BAZAR, BANGLADESH/HONG KONG, 2 October 2017 – UNICEF is launching a HK$594 million appeal for its emergency humanitarian response to the Rohingya refugee crisis in southern Bangladesh.
The appeal will cover the immediate needs of newly-arrived Rohingya children, as well as those who arrived before the recent influx, and children from vulnerable host communities — 720,000 children in all.
Up to 60 per cent of the 500,000-plus Rohingya who have fled Myanmar since August 25 are estimated to be children. Most are now living in harsh and insanitary conditions in makeshift camps and settlements spread across the district of Cox’s Bazar.
“Desperate, traumatized children and their families are fleeing the violence in Myanmar every day. We are scaling up our response as fast as we can, but the magnitude of need is immense and we must be able do more to help them. These children are being denied a childhood. They need our help now and they need our help to have a future”, said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, who is visiting southern Bangladesh.
Expanding the provision of safe water, sanitation and improved hygiene for Rohingya children is the overriding priority of the appeal, amid concerns over a possible outbreak of diarrhea and other waterborne diseases. The majority of Rohingya children are not fully immunized against diseases such as polio.
An oral cholera vaccination campaign targeting all children over 1 years old is planned in October, and 900,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in Bangladesh on October 7, possibly earlier.
An earlier UNICEF appeal for HK$54.6 million has been expanded to reflect the fast-growing scale of the crisis.
Under the response plan, UNICEF will:
– Provide safe water and sanitation to up to 50 per cent of the target population, and respond to the hygiene needs of 40 per cent. The priority will be on the most vulnerable children at risk of disease, along with health, nutrition and learning centres.
– Focus on disease prevention through vaccinations and antenatal care services. UNICEF and partners are working to make information and resources on water handling available to households. Staff at nutrition centres will screen and refer children with suspected cholera cases. Life-saving information on how to prevent and detect suspected cholera cases, and where to go for treatment will be broadcast through mass media. Religious leaders, volunteers and youth will support awareness-raising campaigns.
– Meet the nutritional needs of at least 60 per cent of an estimated caseload of 7,500 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and procure supplies of Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) and therapeutic milk for other partners treating SAM. UNICEF will reach 70 per cent of children with micronutrient support, including Vitamin A.
– Provide child protection services (including psychosocial and recreational support) to up to 180,000 children through structured activities at Child Friendly Spaces and referrals for children who require specialized support. UNICEF will work with the Red Cross on family tracing and reunification, and with other partners to provide survivors of sexual violence with a broad range of support.
– Expand its network of Adolescent Centres to provide life-skills training, recreational activities, and psychosocial support to an especially vulnerable group.
– Work closely with the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education to provide early learning and non-formal basic education to all Rohingya children, using a curriculum that provides basic literacy, numeracy and life skills designed for children who have been out of school. UNICEF will also provide support to schools in host communities, including non-formal education for out of school children. UNICEF will work to recruit teachers among the Rohingya population.