5 lakh Rohingya children heading towards a bleak future

Mohiuddin Alamgir | Published: 22:30, Aug 24,2018 | Updated: 05:15, Aug 25,2018


Rohingya children attend an informal school at the Balukhali refugee camp in Ukhia of Cox’s Bazar district on November 4, 2017. — AFP photo

Half a million Rohingya children in Cox’s Bazar face a bleak future with few opportunities to learn while almost half of them fled to Bangladesh without their parents, killed in violence in Rakhine State of Myanamr, said children rights bodies.
Half of the unaccompanied children interviewed said that their parents or main caregivers were killed in the attacks, leaving them orphaned, while many described witnessing brutal violence, Save the Children said on August 22 in its new research.
More than half a million Rohingya children in Bangladesh are being denied a proper education, and international efforts are urgently needed to prevent them falling prey to despair and frustration, UN children agency UNICEF said in its new report launched on Thursday.
Both the children right bodies released their reports ahead of the first anniversary of the Rohingya influx to Bangladesh.
‘Ensuring rights including education for children is very important and still a challenge for all humanitarian agencies’ refugee relief and repatriation commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam told New Age on Friday.
‘Arranging education for five lakh children is not easy. We cannot arrange education facilities for so many children in short time,’ he said.
‘We are trying to give them safety and education service. We put the arrangement of education places, teaching staffs in priorities,’ Abul Kalam said.
UNICEF in its report warned that children living in the cramped and rudimentary refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar District faced a bleak future, with few opportunities to learn, and no idea when they might return home.
‘If we do not make the investment in education now, we face the very real danger of seeing a lost generation of Rohingya children, children who lack the skills they need to deal with their current situation, and who will be incapable of contributing to their society whenever they are able to return to Myanmar,’ UNICEF Bangladesh representative Edouard Beigbeder said.
By July 2018, some 1,200 learning centres were operating, and almost 140,000 children were enrolled. There was, however, no agreed curriculum, classrooms were often overcrowded and lacked basic water and other facilities.
‘Education especially for teenager is still matter of concern,’ UNICEF spokesperson Alastair Lawson-Tancred told New Age.
‘Main challenge for next year or so will be reach out these teenagers and trying to give them some kind of education at the they have no other form of education except adolescent club,’ he said.
Since August 25, 2017, more than 720,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh from violence and systemic discrimination in Myanmar
The new influx began after Myanmar security forces responded to Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army’s reported attacks on August 25 by launching a violence that the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing.
UNICEF estimates that about 60 per cent of the Rohingyas are children.
Save the Children said the number of unaccompanied and separated Rohingya children stood at 6,013.
Bangladesh Department of Social Services in September-November 2017 listed 39,841 Rohingya orphan children –– 19,059 boys and 20,782 girls –– who lost their parents, mother or father, or lost contact with them during the exodus, and 8,391 of them lost both of their parents.
‘Unaccompanied and separated Rohingya children living in Cox’s Bazar, where they face crippling food shortages and are at increased risk of exploitation and abuse,’ said the Save the Children study.
Preliminary findings from the research show, 70 per cent of children covered by the study were separated from parents or main caregivers by violent attacks; 63 per cent of all children in the study were separated during a direct assault on their village, and 9 per cent as their family attempted to flee to Bangladesh.
Save the Children called for the perpetrators of these systematic, ruthless and deliberate attacks in Myanmar to be held accountable under international law for their crimes, and for all countries to support initiatives at the United Nations to bring the perpetrators to justice.

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