In August 2017, when hundreds of thousands of refugees from Myanmar fled to Bangladesh, the world took note. Of particular concern was the fact that out of the 730,000 Rohingya refugees flooding Bangladesh’s beaches and paddy fields, almost 60 percent of them were children. Today, around 910,000 Rohingya have settled in Cox’s Bazar District in southern Bangladesh. Life for these refugees, especially for children, is characterized by uncertainty. Despite having access to some basic services, Rohingya children remain highly dependent on short term aid and live in precarious conditions, particularly in the cramped camps where living conditions are difficult and dangerous.
In 2019, UNICEF noted an increase in child exploitation within the Rohingya refugee camps. In Bangladesh, Rohingya children are not registered at birth. Consequently, with a lack of legal identity these children are unable to secure refugee status and often become appealing targets to criminal groups for labor and sexual exploitation. Girls in particular are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation and gender-based violence.
UNICEF is also concerned by the number of children who are unable to obtain an education. Although UNICEF has been able to provide access to learning for nearly 213,000 Rohingya children ages 4 to 14 through 2,167 learning centers, there are still 25,000 children who are not attending any learning program. Furthermore, 97 percent of children aged 15 to 18 years old are not attending any type of education facility. UNICEF fears that these children run the risk of becoming a “lost generation” if there are unable to continue to receive an education while displaced.
Thanks to your support, UNICEF is working closely with partners to provide essential water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health, nutrition, education and child protection services to the Rohingya refugees.
In 2019 UNICEF and partners achieved the following results for Rohingya refugees:
- More than 565,000 people reached with access to safe water
- Nearly 57,000 children reached with psychosocial support services
- More than 73,000 children reached with pentavalent three vaccine
- Nearly 213,000 children aged 4 to 14 enrolled in emergency non-formal education
- Nearly 12,000 children treated for severe acute malnutrition
In 2020 UNICEF desires to continue to scale up its response amongst the Rohingya refugee population. In particular, the quality of education requires further improvement and while access to water has improved, there are still persistent issues with quality. Your continued support will allow us to continue to maintain the livelihoods of Rohingya children in the coming year. Thank you for your partnership and for all you do to create a better world for children.