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Updated On: Thursday, November 23 2017

Rohingya refugee children: UNICEF emergency response in Bangladesh

Content by: United Nations Children's Fund

Read now: UNICEF appeals for US$76.1 million to assist children affected by the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, 28 September 2017 Since August 25 2017, more than 429,000 Rohingya refugees, over 240,000 of them children, have fled Rakhine State in Myanmar into Cox's Bazar district of Bangladesh.

Most of them walked up to 60 kilometers for up to six days and arrived exhausted, sick and hungry.

UNICEF is scaling up its response to deliver immediate life-saving humanitarian assistance. Children urgently need protection, nutrition, health, water and sanitation support.

“There are acute shortages of everything, most critically shelter, food and clean water,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF’s Representative in Bangladesh. “Conditions on the ground place children at risk of high risk of water-borne disease. We have a monumental task ahead of us to protect these extremely vulnerable children.”

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UNICEF emergency supplies arrive

The first consignment of UNICEF emergency supplies for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children and their families arrived in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka on 24 September 2017.

The supplies provide urgently-needed assistance and include 100 tons of water purifying tablets, family hygiene kits, sanitary materials, plastic tarpaulins, recreational kits for children and nutritional supplements.

A separate consignment of vaccines – needed for a government-led campaign to immunize Rohingya children against polio, measles and rubella – is also on its way to Bangladesh.

150,000 Rohingya children vaccinated

A seven-day vaccination campaign to protect Rohingya children against measles, rubella and polio took place in mid-September. The campaign, led by the Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), targeted 150,000 children below the age of 15 in 68 refugee settlements close to the border with Myanmar.

“Measles is a very infectious and dangerous disease during emergencies, especially for children who are already weak and malnourished,” said Mr. Beigbeder. “With thousands of children crossing the border every day, vaccination is crucial to prevent the spread of potentially deadly diseases.”

Delivering safe water and hygiene

With UNICEF support, the Department of Public Health Engineering is providing safe water to 36,000 newly arrivals by managing five water treatment plants in Cox’s Bazar, installing 50 water tube wells and providing 10 water trucks (30,000 litre capacity per day).

“Ensuring that children and families have safe water for drinking and washing is absolutely essential in order to protect them against diarrhoea and other waterborne diseases,” said Mr. Beigbeder. “This is a very real threat given the current situation in the camps and makeshift settlements where the Rohingya are now living, especially amid the current heavy rains.”

UNICEF is partnering with NGOs to install emergency latrines and promote hygiene, and has arranged for the transportation and distribution of 6,000 hygiene kits to benefit 30,000 affected people; 2,000 latrines squatting plates to support latrine construction for 100,000 people; and 6 million water purification tablets that will provide safe water to 100,000 new arrivals for one month.

UNICEF Image: Rohingya refugees from Myanmar walk through paddy fields and flooded land

Health and nutrition for children and mothers

UNICEF is supporting medical teams deployed by the government in health facilities dealing with a large number of new Rohingya patients.

Through UNICEF’s support, the special new born care unit in the Cox’s Bazar hospital is providing life-saving medical services to newly arrived babies born in the camps.

As new arrivals are coming from areas in Myanmar with high rates of acute malnutrition, lifesaving nutrition interventions have been needed. To date, a total of 7,159 children have been screened for sever acute malnutrition, among them 114 cases were identified and referred for treatment.

Providing a safe space for children

Children arriving in the camps have endured long and dangerous journeys. Many have witnessed violence and lost family members.

Psychosocial and recreational support has been provided to more than 24,000 Rohingya children so far through more than 40 mobile Child Friendly Spaces.

Separated and unaccompanied children are also being identified through these spaces and community outreach. With UNICEF support, a total of 512 unaccompanied and separated children have been identified.

Over 100 adolescent clubs are now active in host communities and the makeshift settlements to provide life-skills education.

UNICEF is currently running 182 learning centres in Rohingya camps and makeshift settlements in Cox’s Bazar, and has enrolled 15,000 children. It plans to increase the number of learning centres to 1,500, to reach 200,000 children over the next year.

“It is critical that these children, who have suffered so much in this crisis should have access to education in a safe and nurturing environment,” said Mr. Beigbeder. “This is critical not just to provide them with a much-needed sense of normalcy now, but so that they can build a future to look forward to.”

UNICEF Image: A woman and baby in a Rohingya refugee settlement in Bangladesh

Latest news:

04/10/17: Joint statement by Emergency Relief Coordinator and United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock and UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake

02/10/17: UNICEF appeals for US$76.1 million to assist children affected by the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh

29/09/17: UNICEF setting up hundreds of new learning centres for Rohingya refugee children

28/09/17: Statement from UNICEF Representative on the drowning of Rohingya refugee women and children in the Bay of Bengal

25/09/17: Bangladesh Humanitarian Situation report (Rohingya influx)

24/09/17: UNICEF emergency supplies for Rohingya refugee children arrive in Bangladesh

17/09/17: 150,000 Rohingya children in Bangladesh to be vaccinated amid threat of disease outbreak

14/09/17: UNICEF emergency supplies for Rohingya children en route to Cox’s Bazar

05/09/17: Statement by Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, on children affected by the violence in Rakhine, Myanmar

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