The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that over 700,000 Rohingya children are `trapped’ in situations either of violence or forced displacement as the crisis in Myanmar, which has spilled into Bangladesh, continues
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that over 700,000 Rohingya children are `trapped’ in situations either of violence or forced displacement as the crisis in Myanmar, which has spilled into Bangladesh, continues.
The Director of Emergency Programmes at UNICEF, Manuel Fontaine, said that some 720,000 children were facing persecution and violence in their home country of Myanmar, or facing the threats from severe weather and overcrowded camps in Bangladesh.
The agency urgently called for increased assistance to address the root causes of the crisis before the region’s storm season sets in.
It says that floods caused by the imminent cyclone season would likely engulf the camps where most refugees are residing, which are already fragile and insanitary, and would raise the likelihood of waterborne disease outbreaks.
The conditions would also force learning centres, medical clinics and other facilities for children to close.
A report issued by UNICEF, `Lives in Limbo: No End in Sight to the threats facing Rohingya children’, which marks six months since the beginning of the latest exodus of refugees into southern Bangladesh, estimates that around 185,000 children remain in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh is currently believed to be hosting around 534,000 Rohingya children from the influxes of previous years.
Since August 2017, the work of UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies has been severely restricted by a lack of access to the Rakhine State.
Unimpeded access to all children in the state is needed immediately, said UNICEF, as were longer-term efforts to address intercommunal tension.
Aid efforts are currently being led by the Bangladesh government, with local communities in the country accommodating 79,000 Rohingyas.
UNICEF has called on the Myanmar government to end the violence against the minority community and end restrictions on their freedom of movement and access to health care, education and livelihoods.
Recognising their basic human rights would enable the refugees to return to their homes in Myanmar.
In a statement, Manuel Fontaine said: “This is a crisis without a quick fix that could take years to resolve unless there is a concerted effort to address its root causes.
“People won’t go home unless they are guaranteed safety and security, unless they have citizenship, unless they can send their children to school and have a chance of a future.”