Dhaka, Oct 4: As more than 5 lakh Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh from violence-hit Myanmar since August 25, it is the children and women refugees who are suffering the most as they don't even have access to food and drinking water.
Amid the deepening refugee crisis in Bangladesh and its attendant toll on children, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNCEF) on Monday launched an appeal for its emergency response to reach some 720,000 children--both in Rohingya refugee and host communities--with protection and assistance.
"Desperate, traumatised children and their families are fleeing the violence in Myanmar every day. We are scaling up our response as fast as we can, but the magnitude of need is immense and we must be able to do more to help them," said Anthony Lake, the UNICEF executive director, who is visiting southern Bangladesh.
"These children are being denied a childhood. They need our help now and they need our help to have a future," he added.
The UN agency's $76.1 million appeal, primarily focused on preventing outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, covers expansion of safe water and sanitation services, as well as improvements in hygiene systems for Rohingya children, many of whom are living in harsh and unsanitary conditions in makeshift camps and settlements.
It will also provide nutritional support to at least 60 per cent of an estimated caseload of 7,500 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition and 70 per cent of children with micronutrient support, including Vitamin A.
Another key part of the response will be providing protection services, including psychosocial and recreational support to up to 180,000 children through structured activities at child friendly spaces and referrals for children who require specialised support.
The UN agency will also expand the network of adolescent centres to provide life-skills training, recreational activities, and psychosocial support to an especially vulnerable group.
The UNICEF will also initiate an oral cholera vaccination campaign, targeting all children over one, and 900,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in Bangladesh on October 7.
Refugee crisis a 'Level 3' emergency
In related news, the UN refugee agency also issued a supplementary appeal for its emergency response in for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
Declaring the crisis a 'Level 3 Emergency,' the Appeal issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) seeks $83.7 million in urgent additional requirements from September 2017 through to February 2018 and is built on the respective elements of the Preliminary Response Plan for the Influx into Cox's Bazar.
The Preliminary Response Plan was initially drawn, in early September, up by the Inter-Sector Coordination Group. It had appealed for $77 million for the response and is presently under revision.
The UNHCR requirements presented in this Supplementary Appeal will be reflected in, and aligned with, the respective components of that revised appeal, the UN agency said.
The latest influx of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh began on August 25 when Myanmar's military launched a crackdown in the northern Rakhine State over alleged terrorist attacks on its police outposts.
With the latest influx, there are now more than 800,000 refugees living near Bangladesh's border with Myanmar. The refugees claimed the Myanmar security forces were shooting at civilians, setting fire to their homes and raping Rohingya women.