Rohingya Rufugee Childen Crisis

The humanitarian crisis continues with no immediate solution in sight The situation

What is the Rohingya crisis? 

In August 2017, violence erupted in Rakhine State in Myanmar, targeting the Rohingya people, a stateless Muslim minority. One million people fled to Bangladesh, triggering one of the fastest growing humanitarian crises in the world.

How many Rohingya refugees are in Bangladesh? 
An estimated 793,000 Rohingya have been driven into Bangladesh (as of April 2018). Over half of them are children.

One year of 2017-2018, the world community saw a massive humanitarian crisis unfold in Myanmar’s Rakhine, at the north-eastern edge of the Bay of Bengal.

Since late August 2017, more than 671,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Burma’s Rakhine State to escape the military’s large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing. The atrocities committed by Burmese security forces, including mass killings, sexual violence, and widespread arson, amount to crimes against humanity. Military and civilian officials have repeatedly denied that security forces committed abuses during the operations, claims which are contradicted by extensive evidence and witness accounts.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people crossed the border into neighbouring Bangladesh. Sixty per cent of them are children and they all spoke of witnessing unspeakable violence. 

Around 919,000 Rohingya refugees live in southern Bangladesh, most of them in the vast and teeming camps and settlements that have sprung up in Cox’s Bazar district, close to the border with Myanmar.

A smaller number live in the neighboring host communities of Teknaf and Ukhia. The majority – 700,000 arrived following the violence of late August 2017. The rest had arrived using the border in previous influxes.

The unstinting support of local Bangladeshi communities, and a multi-national aid effort led by the Government of Bangladesh, have averted dire fears. Since the chaotic early phase of the crisis, basic services provided by UNICEF, a host of NGOs and humanitarian partners have expanded and scaled up massively. But they are still far outstripped by the needs of the refugees.

A dangerous place for children

Make the chaotic environment safer for children


When hundreds of thousands of terrified Rohingya refugees began flooding onto the beaches and paddy-fields of southern Bangladesh 1 year ago, it was the children — who made up nearly sixty per cent of their number — that caught many people’s attention.

The babies carried in the arms of siblings little older than themselves; the frightened toddlers clutching at the clothing of their exhausted parents; and the tiny graves of those who didn’t survive the journey.

By any definition, this extraordinary exodus – quickly dubbed the world’s fastest-growing humanitarian emergency – was a children’s crisis. Yet the images only told part of the story.

Back in Myanmar, an estimated half million Rohingya remain largely sealed off in their communities and displacement camps, fearful that the violence and horror that had driven so many of their relatives and neighbours to flee would engulf them too.

 The camps have started to look organized. One year ago, the refugees were clearing scrubland to set up plastic-bamboo shelters. Paths have now layered with brick and steep slopes with sandbags and bamboo stairways. There are now more solar-powered street lights. These made the hills less hazardous.

 “They provided a secure space where children could be children again, and allowed parents to concentrate on other issues in their lives,” says UNICEF’s Child Protection Programme Manager in Cox’s Bazar, William Kollie.

Rohingya girls traditionally do not venture out of their homes after reaching puberty. Now as refugees living in congested camps they are cloistered within small, stifling shelters, with nothing to do except cooking and cleaning. For these children, UNICEF supports adolescent clubs in refugee camps and local communities.

Around 60,000 adolescent girls and boys have joined the clubs, which offer them access to life-skills, and knowledge about child rights, alternatives to marriage, under-age hazardous labour, sexual and reproductive health, psychosocial support and other issues.

At the same time UNICEF wants to strengthen the solidarity between Rohingya and host community children. “The host community has been the first responder to this crisis, but has paid a heavy price for doing so,” says Jean Metenier, Chief of UNICEF Cox’s Bazar Field Office.

“This is why … we are now redoubling our efforts to ensure that as a minimum, Bangladeshi children are not negatively affected as a result of the generosity they have shown.”   

Rohingya Refugees with Disabilities


More than 900,000 people reside in the camp after fleeing the Myanmar military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing more than a year ago. 

“Walking through the camps, we found large numbers of Rohingya refugees with disabilities,” said Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Many of the people in the camp had acquired their disabilities from brutal attacks by Myanmar’s military.”

Despite efforts by the United Nations, humanitarian organizations, and the refugees themselves to build handrails, many walkways are impassable for people who have difficulty walking. Hussein Ahmad, whose 17-year-old son was shot in the neck during their escape from Myanmar and is now paralyzed from the waist down, said: “I thank the doctor who gave my son a wheelchair, but I can’t use it because the roads are very dangerous and keep getting worse. It is time for my son to study, but he can’t walk, and his life is being destroyed in front of me.”

Work to shore up the hastily and haphazardly built huts and other camp structures has been hindered by the Bangladeshi government’s insistence that the refugees are only staying temporarily and will soon return to Myanmar. The authorities have resisted developing camp infrastructure that would suggest a longer term stay. As a result, lighting, accessible toilets, and proper walkways with handrails that are critically important for people with disabilities have been slow to develop.