Nearly 3.4 lakh Rohingya children live in dismal conditions in camps in Bangladesh, where there is a deficit of food, clean water and healthcare services, the United Nations Children’s Fund said on Friday. At least 12,000 more children join the camps every week, as they flee the violence against Rohingyas in Myanmar, Unicef said on Friday in a report titled “Outcast and Desperate”.
“They told stories of horror and loss. Of murder. Of rape. Of villages burned to the ground,” the report said. “This crisis is stealing their childhoods. We must not let it steal their futures at the same time.”
“We are providing these children immediate help, but we must be able to do more – first and foremost, to meet their most urgent needs: food, safe water, sanitation and vaccinations to protect them from diseases that thrive in emergencies,” Unicef said.
The UN believes that more than six lakh Rohingya refugees have fled the “ethnic cleansing” they have faced in the northern Rakhine state since August 25, when the Myanmar Army claimed they were attacked by Rohingya militants.
“This isn’t going to be a short-term, it isn’t going to end anytime soon,” Unicef’s Simon Ingram, who authored the report told reports, according to The Guardian. “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.”
There is a “desperately short supply” of toilets and safe drinking water at the refugee camps at Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, Ingram said after spending two weeks there. He added that one in five Rohingya children below five years of age is acutely malnourished and in dire need of medical attention.
Unicef has sought $76 million (around Rs 495 crore) of the $434 million (approximately Rs 2,822 crore) of the UN’s appeal to help the targeted Muslim refugees for six months. The agency is providing toilets and clean water and also vaccinating children against deadly diseases.
On Wednesday, the UN said it had not yet determined whether the violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar was genocide.