Over 200,000 Rohingya children at risk: UNICEF

Staff Correspondent | Update:

Smoke is seen on Myanmar`s side of border as Rohingya refugees get off a boat after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border through the Bay of Bengal in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh 11 September. Photo: ReutersMore than 200,000 Rohingya children, who have fled persecution in Myanmar to Bangladesh, are at risk of health hazards, according to the UNICEF.

“This is a growing humanitarian crisis and children are at the heart of this crisis. Some 60 per cent of all refugees are children according to preliminary data,” said Jean Lieby, chief of child protection, UNICEF Bangladesh on Tuesday.

In a briefing note, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) official said the Rohingyas are facing an unprecedented influx of Rohingya refugees who are coming from Myanmar and crossing into Bangladesh.

A Rohingya refugee man protects his sister from rain as he climbs down a hill after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Cox`s Bazar on 8 September 2017. Photo: Reuters"The scale and the speed of this influx are 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," read the note Prothom Alo received from Geneva.

“The first thing you see here in the different Rohingya camps is the large number of children. You see children who have not slept for days, they are weak and hungry,” said the official.

After such a long and challenging journey, many children are sick and they need health care right away. Children are traumatised.

Rohingya refugees carry their child as they walk through water after crossing border by boat through the Naf River in Teknaf, Bangladesh on 7 September 2017. Photo: ReutersThey need protection and psychological support. "We also see pregnant mothers and we know that many babies were born since their mothers' arrival in Bangladesh. We believe that 200,000 Rohingya children need our urgent support."

These children are at the forefront of this humanitarian crisis. They are at incredible risk, the note added.

As camps are growing every day, the UNICEF went on saying that the Rohingyas 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," read the briefing note.

The UNICEF official said they are particularly concerned for the children separated. "So far, thanks to our partners and our network of child friendly spaces and learning centres, so far, we have identified 1,128 children who are separated. However, we expect this number to increase a lot in the coming days."

Additional supplies are being brought to Cox’s Bazar from Dhaka and from Copenhagen where UNICEF’s supply hub is located.

The minimum funding requirement is $US 7.3 million. However, more is needed as the refugee population is growing.

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