Around 58 per cent of the total Rohingya refugees are children. Off them, about 96 per cent are parentless and now staying in Cox'sBazar area, said Justin Forsyth, deputy executive director of UNICEF. He came up with the observation at a press conference held at a city hotel yesterday evening. The UNICEF official returned to the capital after a two-day visit to Cox's Bazar refugee camps.
Justin Forsyth said necessary safeguards for the refugees were missing in Mayanmar. Until the safety, security and well being of every child returning to Myanmar can be guaranteed, talk of repatriation is premature. According to him Bangladesh delayed the repatriation of the stateless Rohingya to Myanmar as the process of compelling and verifying the list of people to be sent back was incomplete.
Most of the children are vulnerable and they need to access the aid for better living and education, Forsyty said adding that Bangladesh is very generous to them. Many children were also systematically raped in the Rakhaine state of Myanmar. Some of the children are missing or became victim of terrorism while coming to Bangladesh, he observed.
While narrating the woes of the victims of the Rohingya, he said it was a shocking fact and need humanitarian supply to address the sufferings of the stateless people of Myanmar.
NGO and other voluntary organizations with the help of the Bangladesh Army have been helping the refugees coming from Myanmar, he added saying that the repatriation of the refugees is a challenge to Bangladesh. The living condition of the refugees at the camps is beyond bagger description, he said adding that woes will be added during the rainy sessions and monsoon.
The UNICEF will stands beside the children of Rohingyas specially the parents less, he said appreciating the role of Bangladesh in tackling the situation. Unicef has commended bilateral Rohingya repatriation deal but underscored that situation in Rakhine State is not conducive yet to start repatriation of Rohingyas from Bangladesh to their homeland.
"That is the right things to do (repatriation deal) and Bangladesh should be commended for that. But violence is still continuing," Justin Forsyth told reporters.
He laid emphasis on redoubling efforts before monsoon with solid and comprehensive work to save lives in camps here as well as addressing security concerns in the Rakhine State. "We need to redouble our efforts."
Forsyth said it would be "premature" to send back these traumatized children at this moment seeking steps to improve situation in the Rakhine State.
"They miss their homes back in Myanmar but they don't feel safe to go back. We couldn't sleep at night at Rakhine State but we can sleep here," he said quoting one of the Rohingya children.
Forsyth said improved security and unimpeded humanitarian access in Myanmar are essential before Rohingya children can be sent back from Bangladesh.
He also talked about the challenges that more than 520,000 Rohingya children living in overcrowded camps and informal settlements might face during monsoon seasons.
The UNICEF official ended his mission through the press interaction. He visited Cox's Bazar on Wednesday and Thursday and saw the first-hand, the devastating humanitarian situation of the Rohingyas.
Since late August, more than 688,000 Rohingyas, arrived in Cox's Bazar alone, marking the largest mass refugee movement in the region in decades. In Bangladesh, the total number of Rohingyas is now estimated to be well over 975,000 people.
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