Thursday, June 04, 2020

Rohingya children must be protected

Jan 15. 2018
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By The Daily Star
Asia News Network

We are appalled to learn that there are an estimated 40,000 orphans among the 300,00 children in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.

These unfortunate children have lost either one or both parents in the brutal persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that has forced over 650,000 Rohingya to flee their homes and take refuge in Bangladesh. At least 6,700 Rohingya were killed during the first month of the crackdown in Rakhine, according to Doctors Without Borders, which has provided the most authoritative death toll so far from an area to which both the United Nations and independent media have been barred access. 

One can only imagine the trauma these children have gone through and continue to suffer as they await an uncertain future. 

So what can be done to save the lives of these desperate minors who are also vulnerable to disease and death because of the acute malnutrition that most of the children in these camps suffer from? Save the Children estimates another 48,000 babies will be born this year in these squalid, unhygienic camps. How will these babies survive?

It is heartening to know that the Bangladeshi social welfare ministry, in collaboration with Unicef, has initiated a 17.22-million-taka (Bt6.6 million) project that will give financial support to around 9,000 orphans. The project will task 90 child protection committees with supervising around 34,000 children. Centres under this project will educate children about child trafficking, reproductive health, and also try to protect them from violence.

But the huge number of Rohingya orphans makes it obvious that this project has to be expanded significantly to provide protection to all these children. This urgent task requires Bangladesh and the international community to come up with immediate plans to address the needs of not only the orphans but all the children in these camps, including those yet to be born. As a global community, we have a moral responsibility to protect these children from hunger, disease, violence and despair.

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