Rohingya children’s future in doldrums
The future of half a million Rohingya refugee children including additional newly born 48,000 living in the camps of Bangladesh has become uncertain.
Human rights activists and representative of civil society on Tuesday on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of UN Convention on the Rights of Child expressed their views on those ill-fated children living in 38 refugee camps in Cox's Bazar and Ukhiya.
They said access to water, sanitation, health, nutrition, hygiene, education and other services should be given by the Bangladesh government to every Rohingya child and help them building a future for themselves and their communities.
They think that by denying the most basic human rights, the Bangladesh government is leaving them at the mercy of criminal gangs, human traffickers, armed groups and others who seek to exploit their suffering.
"Special care for these Rohingya children should include love and affection. They are above all political conflicts," said eminent columnist Sayed Abul Maksud.
If the government and international community fails to protect their rights then they will be engaged in illegal activities including anti state acts, he noted.
According to Save the Children, currently about 55 per cent Rohingya children are available among the total Rohingya population that means at least 5,00,000 children are lacking any formal education.
Sharing the brutal experiences of the Rohingya children, David Skinner, Team Leader, Rohingya Response, Save the Children, said these children had witnessed rape, torture and killing.
Some were raped and tortured; many saw their friends and family getting killed before their eyes.
"We need to provide support to these children with sympathy. They are said to be turning into a lost generation, but they are not lost and to prove this truth the world should know where they are," he said.
They need support to ensure they are protected, they are safe and sound. They must not be forgotten," he said while talking to the Daily Observer.
Giving emphasis on the newly born children in the camps he also noted that they suffer from malnutrition that eventually causes sufferings of variety of diseases.
"The Rohingya children are growing up in an unhygienic environment of the makeshift settlements made of plastic and bamboo. This is no way for human beings to live," he said.
Praising Bangladesh government's remarkable act of solidarity, he said that this is one of the most impressive examples of humanitarian act in the 21st century.
He urged continued support from across the world besides Bangladesh government's assistance.
However, the Unicef current research report suggests that at least six new babies are being born every day in various Rohingya camps in Cox's bazaar.
Among 5, 00,000, only 180, 00 of them have informal learning facilities in the refugee camps, according to Unicef.
Expressing concern over the sufferings of Rohingya children, Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh, said these vulnerable children can have a chance at a future if we extend our supports from all corners, he said.
"These little children got scar both physically and mentally. Physical scar is seen but mental scar is invisible and they needs more care with love and affection to be healed," he said.
Talking to the Daily Observer, Pintu Kanti Bhattacharya of Cox's Bazar Department of Family Planning said there is no exact record of the number of Rohingya children but till now about 35,000 pregnant mothers have completed registration.
To better protect Rohingya children, and help keep alive their hopes of a better future, bold and coordinated action is needed by the Governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh with the active support of the international community said, Asif Saleh, senior director at Brac.
Myanmar and Bangladesh, however, are state parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and accountable to international communities to ensure protection and humanitarian assistance for refugee children.
"States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that a child who is seeking refugee status or who is considered a refugee in accordance with applicable international or domestic law and procedures shall, whether unaccompanied or accompanied by his or her parents or by any other person, receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance in the enjoyment of applicable rights set forth in the present Convention and in other international human rights or humanitarian instruments to which the said States are Parties", says Article 22 of the CRC.
However, the government of Bangladesh ratified the UNCRC on 3 Aug, 1990 with a reservation to article 14 and article 21.