Over 430,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to seek safety from an escalation of violence in the last four weeks – three in five of them under the age of 18.
UN agencies believe over 600,000 children could cross the border into Bangladesh by the end of the year, joining hundreds of thousands of other Rohingya refugees who fled previous bloodshed. According to UNICEF, over 1,400 children have so far arrived without an adult accompanying them.
The number of people reaching Bangladesh in such a short space of time is unprecedented and the needs considerable, with recent heavy rains making conditions there even more challenging.
Whether arriving with or without a guardian, all children who have been forced to flee are extremely vulnerable and likely to be traumatised by what they have seen and experienced. It is essential that all children seeking sanctuary in Bangladesh access the services they need as quickly as possible, and are protected from exploitation, violence and abuse.
Destination Unknown campaign member Terre des Hommes has worked for many years in Bangladesh. The organisation will work in Cox’s Bazar to help provide water, shelter, basic hygiene support, medical aid – as well as providing children with psychosocial assistance and protection against exploitation.
Terre des Hommes experts will work with other humanitarian agencies to support at least 30,000 people and ensure the safety and wellbeing of displaced children in the area.
Refugee children must be protected in ground-breaking new UN agreements
Tragically, the Rohingya children forced to seek safety in Bangladesh are far from the only kids across the world who have had to flee their homes. Nearly 50 million children around the globe have been forced across borders to seek sanctuary or forcibly displaced inside their home countries.
Every day in every region, these children face grave human rights violations. They are vulnerable to exploitation and violence, are separated from their families, detained because they are refugees or migrants, blocked from essential services like healthcare and education and not given the protection they desperately need.
These abuses are adding up to create an alarming human rights crisis. Destination Unknown is part of an alliance of organisations pushing to ensure the rights of children on the move and other children affected by migration are included in two new United Nations’ agreements – seeking end to this string of violations against children.
These crucial agreements – the Global Compact for Refugees and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration – will be developed by 2018. And once they are finalised, we will fight to ensure they become a reality for children on the move everywhere.
Picture: Rohingya children on the move after an earlier bout of violence in Myanmar.