Health Desk: 24 February 2018: “Some 720,000 Rohingya children are essentially trapped – either hemmed in by violence and forced displacement inside Myanmar or stranded in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh because they can’t return home,” Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes said on Friday.
The agency says that floods caused by the forthcoming cyclone season are likely to engulf the fragile and unsanitary camps where most of the refugees are living, raising the likelihood of waterborne disease outbreaks and forcing clinics, learning centers and other facilities for children to close.
The report also estimates that some 185,000 Rohingya children remain in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, fearful of the violence and horror that drove so many of their relatives and neighbors to flee.
In Bangladesh, there are estimated to be around 534,000 Rohingya refugee children from last year’s and previous influxes.
“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,” stressed Mr. Fontaine.
The report states that the Rohingya are a people cast adrift – chased from their homes and communities, trapped in limbo and deprived of their basic rights – while facing fresh threats to their well-being.
UNICEF calls on the Myanmar Government to end the violence, and to address what it terms a crisis of human rights in Rakhine state, referring to restrictions on Rohingya people’s freedom of movement, extremely limited access to health care, education and livelihoods, and consequent dependence on humanitarian support.
According to the report, recognizing the Rohingya people’s basic rights would create conditions necessary for the refugees to return to their former homes in Myanmar.
Since August 2017, a lack of access to many parts of the Rakhine state has severely restricted the work of UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies.