Over 200,000 Rohingya children who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar are at severe risk and they need urgent support, the UNICEF said on Tuesday.
“This is a growing humanitarian crisis and children are at the heart of this crisis. Some 60 percent of all refugees are children according to preliminary data,” said Jean Lieby, Chief of Child Protection of UNICEF Bangladesh, at a press briefing in Cox’s Bazar.
He said, “The first thing you see here in different Rohingya camps is the large number of children. You see children who have not slept for days, they are weak and hungry.”
After such a long and challenging journey, many children are sick and traumatised and they need health care right away, he continued.
“They need protection and psychological support. We also see pregnant mothers and we know that many babies were born since their mothers’ arrival in Bangladesh,” he added.
“We believe that 200,000 Rohingya children need our urgent support,” the UNICEF official said.
These children are at the forefront of the humanitarian crisis and they are at incredible risk.
Jean Lieby said they are particularly concerned for the children separated. So far, they have identified 1,128 children who are separated. However, they expect this number to increase a lot in the coming days.
He said the minimum funding requirement is $US 7.3 million. However, more is needed as the refugee population is growing.
The UNICEF official said they are facing an unprecedented influx of Rohingya refugees who are coming from Myanmar and crossing into Bangladesh.
“The scale and the speed of this influx is unprecedented in Bangladesh. Just to give you an idea: 220,000 people entered Bangladesh in only six days - between 4 and 10 September. We have no indication that this influx will stop soon,” reads a briefing note.
As camps are growing every day, UNICEF says they need to provide safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
“We want to prevent the incidence of water-borne diseases. There are many vulnerable people in the camps with the high percentage of children, women and elderly who are living in limited space with very poor hygiene conditions. Water-borne diseases are extremely dangerous for children in this type of situation. We need to prevent that from happening,” reads the briefing note.
Additional supplies are being brought to Cox’s Bazar from Dhaka and from Copenhagen where UNICEF’s supply hub is located.