PROTECTING CHILDREN OF THE ROHINGYA CRISIS

Children and families are in desperate need after fleeing Myanmar.


More than 400,000 Rohingya people, the majority of them children and women, have fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State over the past 4 weeks and arrived in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar. Plan International is responding to the desperate need for sanitation and hygiene facilities

Rozina, 8, with her family in their temporary shelter in Balukhali camp.
 Rozina, 8, with her family in their temporary shelter in Balukhali camp.

TENSION IN MYANMAR

In Myanmar, humanitarian operations in Rakhine state remain disrupted in the wake of recent tensions.

Plan International is launching a humanitarian response in Bangladesh to support the Rohingya people fleeing violence in Myanmar. Our initial response will focus on addressing the desperate need for sanitation and hygiene facilities.

The new arrivals have endured immense hardship.

“The new arrivals have endured immense hardship as they made their perilous journey to Bangladesh,” said Orla Murphy, Plan International’s Country Director in Bangladesh. “We are particularly concerned for the safety and wellbeing of children, whose lives have been turned upside down by this crisis.

Many arriving in Cox’s Bazar have walked for days through dense jungle, arriving in Bangladesh sick, malnourished, and vulnerable to the spread of disease. With so many people living in such close proximity, it is essential that we get basic amenities in place as soon as possible.

There is an urgent need to ensure that displaced people and other civilians who remain in conflict-affected areas are protected and are given access to humanitarian assistance including food, water and health services.

Girl shelters from heavy rain in Balukhali camp
 Girl shelters from heavy rain in Balukhali camp in the Bangladeshi city of Cox’s Bazar.

PERILS IN BANGLADESH CAMPS

More than 400,000 Rohingya people, the majority of them children and women, have fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State over the past 4 weeks and arrived in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar.

Many have travelled on foot through jungle, while braving monsoon rains and intense heat.

UN agencies report that many of the new arrivals who have walked for days are already sick and malnourished. Young children and the old are at greatest risk from waterborne and contagious diseases.

Thousands are camping in the open with little or no shelter on muddy hillsides in Cox’s Bazar. They have no access to clean water or toilets. The high concentration of displaced population living with almost no basic amenities is posing a serious risk on many levels ranging from spread of diseases to protection of children.

Woman stands outside her temporary shelter in Balukhali camp.
 Woman stands outside her temporary shelter in Balukhali camp.

NO ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE OR SUPPLIES

There is an urgent need of primary and secondary health care for new arrivals, with high reported numbers of injuries and absence of clinical services. People need medicines and basic supplies.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), protection risks are extreme for the new arrivals. The existing makeshift settlements are overcrowded and the new spontaneous sites do not have any protection mechanisms, monitoring, nor security support. Specialised services and psychosocial first aid are needed for trauma, survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and other vulnerable groups.

For children affected by the crisis, their lives have been turned upside down. They have lost their homes, their education has come to halt and they face risk of disease, abuse and death. The unaccompanied children are at particular risk for human trafficking, sexual abuse, child labour, and child marriage.

Rozina, 8, helps her uncle dig a platform to build a shelter on
 Rozina, 8, helps her uncle dig a platform to build a shelter on.

UNACCOMPANIED ROHINGYA CHILDREN

Hundreds of children are reported to be unaccompanied. Our experience shows that humanitarian situations of this nature can have a huge and lasting emotional impact on children. Many will need psychosocial support to regain a sense of normality.

Plan International is calling on all parties to allow humanitarian access to support thousands in desperate need. Through a coordinated response, international aid agencies can work with the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to provide lifesaving assistance to people whose lives have been torn apart by violence and displacement.

Vulnerable populations such as adolescent girls, unaccompanied and separated children, children under 5, and pregnant and lactating women should be prioritised in all responses.

Mass movement of people and flux puts the most vulnerable at risk for trafficking and other forms of exploitation and abuse. There is an immediate need for dedicated services to support vulnerable groups.

Young Rohingya girl arrives at the Balukhali camp in Cox's Bazar.
 Young Rohingya girl arrives at the Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar.

GIRLS FACE ADDITIONAL RISKS IN EMERGENCIES

Plan International’s experience shows that girls and women bear the biggest brunt of conflicts and emergencies. All needs assessments and humanitarian response must be sensitive to specific needs of girls and women. For example, distribution of safety and dignity items to newly arrived women and girls is one the many urgent needs that need immediate attention.

Plan International believes that child protection, including prevention and response activities aimed at sexual and gender-based violence, and education for forcibly displaced children, should be prioritised in the first phase of the response alongside food, shelter, and WASH.