Bangladesh: Rohingya refugee crisis
The exodus of Rohingya from Myanmar created one world’s largest refugee emergencies in neighbouring Bangladesh, with an estimated 800,000 people seeking shelter in makeshift camps between August 2017 and early 2018.
The majority of the refugees, who represent a persecuted ethnic minority in Myanmar, are children. SOS Children’s Villages Bangladesh has responded to the emergency by five child care spaces at refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar district, providing hundreds of children daily meals as well as recreational and informal educational activities.
Bangladesh is prone to landslides and other disasters spawned by cyclones and monsoon rains, creating new challenges for the refugee children and their families. SOS Children’s Villages was especially concerned about the safety of children living in the camps – many of whom had only endured arduous journeys to reach Bangladesh.
“There are an estimated 800,000 Rohingya refugees living in the camps and more are about to come,” says Ghulam Ishaque, National Director of SOS Children´s Villages Bangladesh. “Some 500,000 of the refugee population are children and about 40,000 are registered as being unaccompanied. People live in fragile bamboo huts along the hills. Although many non-governmental organisations [NGOs] are present, the hygiene conditions are terrible. It’s a human disaster.”
SOS Children’s Villages has made contingency plans in the event of a natural disaster near its child care spaces. “We have taken precautions to prepare for the worst, but I really hope that this scenario never comes true,” Mr Ishaque says.
Starting in early 2018, SOS Children’s Villages Bangladesh opened five child care spaces to help Rohingya children sheltered in the Cox’s Bazar district.
The child care spaces serve as a hub for:
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- Providing for an estimated 300 children ages three to twelve every day. These facilities offer a safe place for children to play and have access to informal education.
- Ensuring that the children are provided a balanced diet, nutritional screening and hygiene.
- Offering support in trauma healing, primary health care, and referral services for specialised medical care.
- Training caregivers in positive parenting.