Support Children in the Rohingya Refugee Crisis

by UNICEF USA
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Support Children in the Rohingya Refugee Crisis
Support Children in the Rohingya Refugee Crisis
Support Children in the Rohingya Refugee Crisis
Support Children in the Rohingya Refugee Crisis
Support Children in the Rohingya Refugee Crisis
Support Children in the Rohingya Refugee Crisis
Support Children in the Rohingya Refugee Crisis

Dear Friend,

As you may be aware, on March 22, 2021, a massive fire in Cox’s Bazar caused widespread devastation when it quickly spread across four Rohingya refugee camps, displacing around 50,000 refugees, half of whom are children and destroying 142 learning centers, which children rely on to continue their education. In addition, one primary health care center, two nutrition facilities, six water supply networks, 763 latrines and 280 bathing spaces were either severely damaged or destroyed.

During the first 24 hours following the fire, UNICEF’s immediate concern was to ensure the safety and protection of children who were missing or separated from their families. UNICEF and partners sheltered over 70 lost children overnight. By midday the day after the fire, nearly half of these had been successfully reunited with their families.

Junaid’s Story

Junaid and his siblings quickly became separated in the panic and chaos that followed the massive fire in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh in the afternoon of March 22. Flames quickly engulfed shelters, spreading across four refugee camps and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes.

Those who had time grabbed their most important possessions. Others were lucky to escape with their lives. The day after the tragedy, the ground remained extremely hot, while the air was heavily polluted and difficult to breathe.

When twelve-year-old Junaid saw UNICEF’s staff on the ground, he ran to meet them, overcome to see familiar faces and help arriving from outside the camp. “We lost everything in the fire. My father and I stayed with our uncle the night of the fire, but we didn’t know what happened to my two siblings, we were so worried. The next day we were reunited, we were overjoyed,” said Junaid.

As the immediate disaster is stabilized, UNICEF and partners are planning a complex rebuilding effort which will need outside support. Children like Junaid have seen their learning centers turned to ashes. “I loved coming to this learning center where I would play with my friends. But everything is gone,” Junaid shared.

Following the fire, UNICEF and partners deployed mobile medical teams to affected areas and provided medical services to 545 patients, including 124 children. With your support, UNICEF has been able to reopen the primary health care center which was partially damaged, and continues to provide medical care for children and their families at the facility. According to the latest figures, 390 children have been successfully reunited with their parents or primary caregivers and 11 temporary Child Friendly Spaces and four Child Protection Help Desks have been established to maintain the continuity of essential services. While working to rehabilitate the learning centers, UNICEF and partners are strengthening care-giver-led home-based learning for children affected by the fire. In addition, UNICEF has provided emergency water and sanitation services to 18,700 people who lost their homes and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities due to the fire.

With your generous support, UNICEF will continue to ensure that Rohingya refugee children and their families get back on their feet following this devastating fire.

In partnership,

Whitney

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Asheka, 16 year old youth volunteer
Asheka, 16 year old youth volunteer

Dear Friend,

In 2017, escalating violence triggered an exodus of Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh. Men, women and children brought with them accounts of the unspeakable atrocities. The survivors, holding onto little more than memories of loved ones lost, fled their homes and crossed the border into Bangladesh. It was an agonizing journey for those who survived. They walked many miles, crossed mountains, rivers and the bay. For some the journey took a few days, for others over one month. Children carried whatever belongings they could grab while fleeing home, but the greatest burdens were pain, fear, exhaustion, starvation and thirst.

In Rohingya camps in Bangladesh, UNICEF and implementing partners are providing health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education, child protection and gender-based violence services at scale. UNICEF works with the government to help connect children with the services, supplies and care they need for a fresh start and a bright future. Since their arrival in Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees grappled with new challenges – floods, landslides, severe storms and now, they are fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic.

From this tragedy, inspiring tales also started to emerge. There are stories of courage, determination and strength to rebuild lives from scratch in challenging and overcrowded refugee camps. Thousands of Rohingya children, youth and women are leading this endeavor, striving for a hopeful, better future. There are now nearly 860,000 Rohingya people living in exile in the world’s largest refugee settlement, located in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Over half of them are children.

“I miss my home in Burma a lot,” says 14-year old Kohinur who is learning Burmese and English alongside handicrafts at a UNICEF-supported center. “My family owned a two-story farm-house which had some land, livestock and a beautiful balcony.” She had to leave all this behind and rebuild her life in a refugee camp far from home. At the UNICEF center, this is the first time she has received any education and training since her family fled to Bangladesh in 2017. Kohinur says that the center has given her a new purpose in life and is a welcome respite from the daily household chores, which includes cooking rice and collecting water. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, she was attending the center six days a week. She hopes that one day she can become a tailor and earn a living.

Asheka was 16 years old  when she became a youth volunteer in the Rohingya refugee camp in 2018. She has helped save countless lives in her community by visiting homes and simply sharing lifesaving information on better hygiene management for improved health. “I mainly speak with women and girls in my community to inform them about how to care for children and their own health by following best practices of hygiene management at home.” Asheka arrived in Bangladesh in September 2017 after a grueling journey from Myanmar. In the camps, though it is very tough, she enjoys the challenge of working as a youth volunteer, " I feel very happy that I'm able to do something for my community that I didn't know I could do before coming to UNICEF’s information and feedback center and receiving training on sharing correct messages."

“When I managed to cross the border and reached Bangladesh from Myanmar, all I wanted was to have a drop of clean water,” says Sanjida, a young Rohingya refugee mother of a six-month-old baby girl. “Throughout our journey to reach Bangladesh, we suffered so much, we were  running to save our lives, but we did not have access to drinkable water. We were thirsty and falling sick.” Sanjida now lives in a densely populated Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. “My concerns are always about my daughter. The living conditions in the camp are very harsh but I must ensure that my child is safe and healthy. One thing that makes a big difference to maintaining the health of my child is the safe water taps that are installed near our home. This is lifesaving!”

UNICEF is mobilizing its resources to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on Rohingya people like Kohinur, Sanjida and Asheka. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new threat to these overcrowded conditions. Many refugees live in flimsy bamboo and tarpaulin shelters where the dangers of everyday life remain all too real, including the high risk of the spread of infectious diseases like the coronavirus. With your partnership, UNICEF is disseminating lifesaving messages; scaling up handwashing points and hygiene promotion; adopting infection and control measures at all service points; and adopting alternative modalities including home-based caregiver-led learning and one-on-one psychosocial support.

UNICEF will continue to ensure that all Rohingya children are supported with the holistic care needed to return them to a sense of normalcy and ensure that they can thrive.

On behalf of Rohingya children, thank you.

Kohinur, 14, who is learning Burmese and English
Kohinur, 14, who is learning Burmese and English
Sanjida, a young Rohingya refugee mother
Sanjida, a young Rohingya refugee mother
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Afroza at Safe Space for women and girls
Afroza at Safe Space for women and girls

Dear Friend,

Two and half years after the initial influx began, nearly 855,000 Rohingya refugees remain in Cox’s Bazar District of Bangladesh, 54.2 percent of whom are children. As International Day of the Girl Child approaches and with gender equity as a core pillar of UNICEF’s work, we remain committed to ensuring women and girls are afforded the access to opportunities and care they need.

Within this humanitarian context, women are particularly effected. Women face restrictions on their freedom of movement as well as high levels of violence. Intimate partner violence makes up 76 percent of all cases reported to the gender-based violence (GBV) information management system, suggesting a high prevalence rate within the community. Rohingya adolescents, meanwhile, face multi-faceted and interlinked issues, including access to adequate services, information and quality learning opportunities; sociocultural challenges including exposure to violence, sexual harassment and assault; and adverse social practices such as child marriage and child labor.

With your support, UNICEF reached nearly 80,000 refugee children in 2019 with psychosocial support activities to help children build personal resilience and equip them with positive coping mechanisms. In addition, UNICEF provided over 9,360 refugee children, who were among the most vulnerable in the camps, with case management services. These children included victims of abuse, children facing child marriage, children who are at-risk or victims of trafficking and children living with neglect and other forms of violence in their homes.

A key strategic shift for UNICEF in 2019 was the integration of its adolescent programming within the Rohingya camps. In total, 52,572 adolescents participated in life skills sessions that promoted adolescents’ resilience and positive coping mechanisms to help them respond to the challenges of everyday life in the camps. Topics included health, nutrition, hygiene, child rights and protection, the environment and disaster preparedness and leadership and empowerment. The first cohort of 9,329 adolescents (54 percent female) graduated and are being supported to start businesses and find jobs.

With your generosity, UNICEF and partners reached over 34,360 adolescent girls and women with GBV prevention and response interventions through 16 safe spaces for women and girls. Additionally, through community volunteers and outreach activities, nearly 116,400 community members were reached with messages on child protection and GBV. UNICEF also distributed 22,925 dignity kits to women and girls as a way of facilitating their movements during periods of menstruation.

The Rohingya refugee population, having very few opportunities to pursue an adequate livelihood, is completely dependent on humanitarian aid. Your support in 2019 enabled UNICEF to not only scale up life-saving activities for this population, but also ensure that individuals regain a sense of dignity.

In 2020, UNICEF is working with partners to find innovative solutions for underserved communities, including adolescent girls and children with disabilities. We so appreciate your continued support and will continue to share these updates to illustrate the incredibly important contribution you are making the lives of Rohingya families.

In Partnership,

Whitney

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UNICEF/UNI238938/CHAK
UNICEF/UNI238938/CHAK

Dear Friend,

Over two and half years after the initial influx began, nearly 855,000 Rohingya refugees remain in Cox’s Bazar District of Bangladesh, 54.2 percent of whom are children. Rohingya children continue to suffer from acute malnutrition as well as vaccine-preventable and water-borne diseases. Conditions are not yet in place for the safe, dignified and voluntary return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, and no feasible durable solutions have been identified. Consequently, time has begun to wear down families’ existing coping mechanisms, placing children increasingly at risk of early marriage, hazardous labor, trafficking and getting pulled out of school, among other concerns. These negative effects are compounded by COVID-19, which has been confirmed within Cox Bazar. 

Rohingya refugees remain fully dependent on humanitarian assistance, with relatively no access to livelihoods or cash assistance. Household vulnerability within the camps is increasing. In 2019, only 54 percent of households met an acceptable level of food consumption, with dietary diversity a key concern,  contributing to the continued serious levels of acute malnutrition among children. In 2019, 11 percent of children under five were acutely malnourished.

Within this humanitarian context, women, adolescents and people with disabilities are particularly affected. Women face restrictions on their freedom of movement as well as high levels of violence. Rohingya adolescents, meanwhile, face multi-faceted and interlinked issues, including access to adequate services, quality learning opportunities, sociocultural challenges including exposure to violence, sexual harassment and assault; and adverse social practices such as child marriage and child labor. Children with disabilities in the camps are often isolated, reducing their social network, inclusion and access to services.

Thanks to your support, in 2019, UNICEF and partners reached full coverage of access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services for Rohingya children and their families within UNICEF-supported camps. Additional key results include:

  • The provision of over 339,160 primary health consultations in 2019, including nearly 156,250 consultations for children under the age of five;
  • Treatment for nearly 15,850 children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition;
  • The provision of learning opportunities to more than 219,760 Rohingya children aged 4 to 14;
  • Reaching 625 children with disabilities with education opportunities
  • Introduction of an integrated adolescent program which extended life and vocational skills opportunities to 52,572 adolescents aged 15 to 18 in camps and host communities;

Throughout 2020, UNICEF will provide girls, women, the elderly and people with disabilities with modified WASH infrastructure to meet their needs. Additionally, UNICEF and education partners will work to identify new and innovative solutions to ensuring that adolescent girls are able to realize their right to education including single-sex class shifts and female volunteers to escort them to and from classes. Inclusive education initiatives will also be scaled up, and all programs will focus on ensuring the integration of children with disabilities. Your continued support is crucial to enhancing UNICEF’s ability to efficiently scale up its response within the Rohingya refugee camps.

Sincerely,

Whitney Simon

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UNICEF/UNI255780/CHAK
UNICEF/UNI255780/CHAK

Dear Friend, 

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. 

Sincerely,

Whitney Simon 

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UNICEF USA

Location: New York - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Whitney Simon
New York, New York United States
$53,963 raised of $75,000 goal
 
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