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Rohingya children facing "hell on earth"

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The worst affected in the ongoing Rohingya crisis are children. A recent report by UNICEF claims that it is a "hell on earth" experience for the Rohingya children languishing in refugee camps.

File photo of Rohingya refugees

UNICEF figures claim that out of the 600,000 Rohingyas who fled from Myanmar nearly 3,40,000 are children.

These children languishing in camps in Bangladesh lack basic amenities including food; clean and safe drinking water and healthcare, stated UNICEF.

UNICEF report "Outcast and Desperate" by Simon Ingram states that one in five Rohingya children under the age of five suffers from acute malnourishment and requires medical attention.

The four key stress areas for UNICEF include International support and funding for the Bangladesh Humanitarian Response Plan and humanitarian response plan for Myanmar; Protection of Rohingya children and families, and immediate unfettered humanitarian access to all children affected by the violence in Rakhine State; Support for the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar; and A long-term solution to the crisis, including implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.

Unhygienic conditions including lack of proper sanitation and toilets in the camps in Bangladesh make them vulnerable. "There is a high probability of diarrhea and even cholera outbreaks in near future" stated Ingram.

UNICEF is providing clean water, toilets and is helping with vaccinating children against cholera and measles.

World Health Organisation (WHO) is of a similar opinion. "There is a clear risk for cholera," said Dr Navaratnasamy Paranietharan, the WHO's representative in Bangladesh.

WHO has started distributing 900,000 doses of cholera vaccine. The first round of the vaccination campaign will cover 650,000 people. A second round will target 250,000 children aged between one to five years.

WHO has diagnosed 10,292 cases of diarrhoea, which are symptomatic to cholera so far in the camps. Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated. Researchers have estimated that each year there are 1.3 to 4.0 million cases of cholera, and 21 000 to 143 000 deaths worldwide. It is endemic in Bangladesh.

The Rohingyas are an ethnic group, the majority belonging to the Muslim faith, who have lived for centuries in Myanmar. Currently, there are about 1.1 million Rohingya who live in the predominantly Buddhist country.

The Rohingya speak the unique Ruaingga dialect but are not considered one of Myanmar's 135 official ethnic groups. They have been denied citizenship in Myanmar since 1982. This has rendered the Rohingya's stateless.

Nearly all of the Rohingyas in Myanmar live in the western coastal state of Rakhine in camps. Time and again there have been allegations of Myanmar embarking on ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya's which the country has denied.

Following an attack on the police posts and an army base in Myanmar on August 25 that left 12 officers dead, the Myanmar military has imposed a crackdown on the Rohingya population which they have dubbed a clearance operation against an insurgent terrorist group.

Due to ongoing violence and persecution, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to neighbouring countries either by land or boat.

The UNICEF report states that each week around 12000 Rohingya children pour into Bangladesh already reeling under the crisis. The crisis is unlikely to end soon hence the borders should remain open feels UNICEF.

UNICEF further advises that the Rohingyas born in Bangladesh should have their births registered in Bangladesh.

OneIndia News

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