Rohingya children need a political solution to the issue of legal identity and citizenship and in the interim they need to be recognized first and foremost as children, says the Unicef on Tuesday.
"The Convention on the Rights of the Child guarantees rights to health, education and opportunities to learn and grow to all children, irrespective of their ethnicity or status or the circumstances in which they find themselves. Ways and means must be found to deliver these rights to Rohingya children in Rakhine State today," said Marixie Mercado, UNICEF spokesperson at a press briefing in Geneva.
The Spokesperson said ethnic Rakhine children have also been deeply affected by years of communal violence and division. "We have long worked to promote more equitable and inclusive access for all children across Rakhine and Myanmnar, and we stand by our principle that a child is a child and every child in need deserves help."
The Annan Commission has provided a roadmap for a durable political solution so all children’s rights can be protected in a sustainable, open and fair manner in the longer term.
"UNICEF stands ready to support this crucial work. And we call on the global community, especially regional organizations and countries, to leverage their influence so children have better lives today and a future they can look forward to," said Marixie Mercado.
The Spokesperson said Rohingya children desperately need education if they are to have any kind of prospects for a better future.
"Temporary solutions need to be improved immediately and more durable arrangements providing children with access to formal education, provided by properly trained teachers and recognized by the education system, must be set in place quickly. Otherwise this generation’s future prospects will be permanently damaged," said the Unicef Spokesperson.
The Government of Myanmar has established a ministerial committee tasked with implementing the recommendations of the final report of the Rakhine Advisory Commission chaired by Kofi Annan, which include addressing the stateless status of the Rohingya population and meeting priority needs.
“I spent December 6 through January 3 in Myanmar, almost half of that time in Rakhine State. I traveled to the northern part of the state – where the violence broke out last August, driving 655,000 people, the vast majority of them Rohingya, across the border into Bangladesh," said the official.
Marixie Mercado also went to central Rakhine, where over 120,000 Rohingya have been stranded in squalid camps since 2012, and about 200,000 more live in villages where their freedom of movement and access to basic services are also increasingly restricted.
“UNICEF and our partners still don’t know what the true picture is of the children who remain in northern Rakhine because we don’t have enough access. What we do know is deeply troubling," said Marixie Mercado.
Prior to 25 August, they were treating 4,800 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition; these children are no longer receiving this life-saving treatment.
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