Violence in Myanmar driving up to 12,000 Rohingya refugee children into Bangladesh every week

 

Violence in Myanmar driving up to 12,000 Rohingya refugee children into Bangladesh every week

On 5 September 2017 in Bangladesh, Mohammed Yasin, 8, is amongst the newly arrived Rohingyas living in shelters at the Kutupalong makeshift camp in Cox's Bazar.

By 5 September 2017, more than 146,000 Rohingya refugees fled across the border from Rakhine State, Myanmar, into Cox's Bazar district, Chittagong Division in Bangladesh since 25 August. As many as 80 per cent of the new arrivals are women and children. More than 70 000 children need urgent humanitarian assistance. More than 100,000 of the newly arrived refugees are currently residing in makeshift settlements and official refugee camps that are extremely overcrowded while 10,000 newly arrived refugees are in host communities. In addition, 33,000 arrivals are in new spontaneous sites, which are quickly expanding.  While some refugees are making their own shelters, the majority of people are staying in the open, suffering from exhaustion, sickness and hunger. Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable districts, not only for its poor performance in child related indicators but also for its vulnerability to natural hazards.  Most people walked 50 or 60 kilometers for up to six days and are in dire need of food, water and protection. Many children are suffering from cold fever as they are drenched in rain and lack additional clothes. Children and adolescents, especially girls, are vulnerable to trafficking as different child trafficking groups are active in the region. Many more children in need of support and protection remain in the areas of northern Rakhine State that have been wracked by violence.

In Bangladesh, UNICEF is scaling up its response to provide refugee children with protection, nutrition, health, water and sanitation support. With the recent influx of refugees, demand has increased and UNICEF is working to mobilize more support and strengthen its existing activities. For recreational and psychosocial support to the newly arrived Rohingya children, 33 mobile Child Frien

© UNICEF/Brown

Mohammed Yasin, 8, is amongst the Rohingyas refugee children living in shelters at the Kutupalong makeshift camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

UNICEF urges donors to support humanitarian appeals ahead of international pledging conference.

DHAKA, BANGLADESH/GENEVA/HONG KONG, 20 October 2017 –Desperate living conditions and waterborne diseases are threatening more than 320,000 Rohingya refugee children who have fled to southern Bangladesh since late August, including some 10,000 who crossed from Myanmar over the past few days, UNICEF said today.

“Many Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh have witnessed atrocities in Myanmar no child should ever see, and all have suffered tremendous loss,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.  “These children urgently need food, safe water, sanitation, and vaccinations to protect them from diseases that thrive in emergencies. But they also need help in overcoming all they have endured. They need education. They need counselling. They need hope. If we don’t provide them with these things now, how will they ever grow up to be productive citizens of their societies? This crisis is stealing their childhoods. We must not let it steal their futures at the same time.”

Well over half a million Rohingya people have crossed into Bangladesh’s southern district of Cox’s Bazaar since late August after escaping horrific violence in neighbouring Myanmar. They have joined some 200,000 others who came in earlier refugee influxes. Almost 60 per cent of the latest arrivals are children, crossing at a rate of between 1,200 and 1,800 per day.

In a newly-released report – Outcast and Desperate: Rohingya refugee children face a perilous future – UNICEF says that most of the refugees are living in overcrowded and insanitary makeshift settlements. Despite an expanding international aid effort led by the Government of Bangladesh, the essential needs of many children are not being met.

“The refugees are still coming, but already we can see the appalling dangers that the children are facing,” says UNICEF Bangladesh Representative, Edouard Beigbeder.  “Living in the open, with food, safe water and sanitation in desperately short supply, the risk of waterborne and other diseases is palpable.”

High levels of severe acute malnutrition among young children have been found in the camps, and antenatal services to mothers and babies are lacking. Support for children traumatised by violence also needs to be expanded.

The report also says that in the chaotic setting of the camps, children and youth could fall prey to traffickers and others looking to exploit and manipulate them.

UNICEF is calling for an end to the atrocities targeting civilians in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, and for humanitarian actors to be given immediate and unfettered access to all children affected by the violence there.  At present, UNICEF has no access to Rohingya children in Northern Rakhine State.

The report says a long-term solution to the crisis in Rakhine State is also needed and must address the issues of statelessness and discrimination, as recommended by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.

Ahead of an international pledging conference on 23 October in Geneva, UNICEF is urging donors to respond urgently to the requirements of the updated Bangladesh Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) released by the UN and humanitarian agencies for HK$3,385.2 million. UNICEF requires HK$593.58 million to address the immediate needs of newly-arrived Rohingya children, as well as those who arrived before the recent influx, and children from vulnerable host communities.

Expanding the provision of safe water, sanitation and improved hygiene for Rohingya children is the top priority of the appeal, amid concerns over a possible outbreak of diarrhea and other waterborne diseases. Most Rohingya children are not fully immunized against diseases such as measles. UNICEF is also focused on providing Rohingya children with learning and support services in child-friendly spaces, and working with our partners to address gender-based violence.

UNICEF is calling for urgent action in four key areas:

1. International support and funding for the Bangladesh Humanitarian Response Plan and humanitarian response plan for Myanmar;
2. Protection of Rohingya children and families, and immediate unfettered humanitarian access to all children affected by the violence in Rakhine State;
3. Support for the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar; and
4. A long-term solution to the crisis, including implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.