Even two years after more than a million Rohingya had to flee their homeland Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh, the situation in the world's largest refugee camp is still dramatic for many children.
Fatima* is 13 years old and fled to Bangladesh two years ago from the violence in Myanmar. When she arrived at Cox's Bazar, she had nothing. Now she lives with her parents, her two sisters and her grandfather in the largest refugee camp in the world. She had to experience things that most children of her age fortunately never have to experience. Fatima* knows how important school is. She wants to become a teacher and teach girls.
Fatima* wants a future - just like hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children who have had to leave their homeland. But two years after the great crisis, the living conditions of these children are still poor. They have little hope and the people responsible for the crisis have not yet been brought to justice.
Rape, torture and murder
In Cox's Bazar, Save the Children has spoken to children who have witnessed rape, torture and murder or who have themselves been raped and tortured. They were able to escape to Bangladesh, but here children like Fatima* face new challenges. The shelters in which they live are made of bamboo and plastic and cannot withstand extreme weather conditions. Every 10th child is malnourished. Even when fetching water at dusk or while going to the toilet, the children are exposed to great dangers because the camps are poorly lit and little secured. They are afraid of human trafficking, drugs and violence.
No solution in sight
Not only the Rohingya refugees need our help. The communities in Bangladesh, which two years ago welcomed more than one million refugees, are also facing great challenges. There are too few doctors*, the health system is completely overloaded and resentment is on the rise. These children also face an uncertain future. A perspective has not yet been found in the last two years. The prospects for a safe return to Myanmar are low. No third country has so far offered to accept refugees and even within Bangladesh the Rohingya refugees cannot hope for an orderly resettlement or distribution.
Many say that the Rohingya children are a lost generation. But they are not lost, we do not have to find them first. We know exactly where they are and what they need! They need our support now so that they can learn, grow up safe and healthy and experience justice.
- David Skinner, director of Save the Children in Cox's Bazar.
61 NGOs call for recognition of human rights
In a published joint statement, 61 local, national and international NGOs active in the two countries called for the recognition of human rights for all Rohingya in the state of Rakhine and the participation of Rohingya refugees in decision-making about their own lives, including the conditions for their return to Myanmar.
NGOs expressed grave concern about the safety of affected families in Rakhine State, including Rohingya, as the conflict escalates and humanitarian access is limited. They urged the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to ensure that any return process is safe, voluntary and dignified, as news of the possible accelerated repatriation of 3,450 Rohingya refugees was circulated this week.