About 340,000 Rohingya children are reportedly living in squalid conditions in refugee camps in Bangladesh, where they don’t get enough food, clean water or healthcare. The Daily Times quoted a United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) statement, as saying on Friday that most of these children are still traumatised by the atrocities they witnessed in neighbouring Myanmar from where they were forced to flee.
Simon Ingram, the author of the Unicef report titled “Outcast and Desperate”, told media persons here on Friday that, “This isn’t going to be a short-term, it isn’t going to end anytime soon.”
“So it is absolutely critical that the borders remain open and that protection for children is given and equally that children born in Bangladesh have their birth registered,” he added.
Most Rohingya are stateless in Myanmar and many fled without papers, he said, adding of the newborns in Bangladesh: “Without an identity they have no chance of ever assimilating into any society effectively.”
Safe drinking water and toilets are in “desperately short supply” in the chaotic, teeming camps and settlements, Ingram said after spending two weeks in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
“There is a very, very severe risk of outbreaks of water-borne diseases, diarrhoea and quite conceivably cholera in the longer-term,” he added.
Unicef is providing clean water and toilets, and has helped vaccinate children against measles and cholera, which can be deadly, he said.
The agency is seeking USD 76 million under a USD 434 million UN appeal for Rohingya refugees for six months, but is only seven percent funded, he said, speaking ahead of a pledging conference in Geneva on Monday.
UN agencies are still demanding access to northern Rakhine, where an unknown number of Rohingya remain despite UN reports that many villages and food stocks have been burned.
“We repeat the call for the need for protection of all Rohingya children in Rakhine state, this is an absolute fundamental requirement. The atrocities against children and civilians must end,” Ingram said.
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