25 August 2020 – Three years since hundreds of thousands fled violence and persecution in Myanmar, Rohingya refugee children and families in Cox’ Bazar District of Bangladesh are now facing new challenges. In spite of incredibly difficult circumstances, the refugee population is actively participating in response efforts to prevent and manage the threat of Coronavirus in the camps.
“Rohingya refugee children and families have shown extraordinary resilience while living in exile in Bangladesh,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia. “Despite unimaginably difficult circumstances – exacerbated by monsoon rains and the global pandemic – these families continue to teach us each day what strength, courage and perseverance are.”
Coronavirus continues to disrupt life for more than 460,000 Rohingya refugee children living in Cox’s Bazar District. Education facilities in the camps have been closed since March as is the case in the rest of the country. Around 315,000 Rohingya refugee children and adolescents have been out of their learning centres. UNICEF and partners continue efforts to help children learn at home, engaging parents and caregivers to support learning and providing workbooks and visual aids. Rohingya volunteer teachers have played a central role while at the same time delivering Coronavirus health and hygiene messages.
As a result, a recent survey found that 77 per cent of children were engaged in caregiver-led learning activities at home. However, significant challenges remain, including the fact that many parents cannot read and write, and UNICEF continues to explore alternative ways to keep children connected to education and information.
“Rohingya refugee children need opportunities to develop knowledge and skills for their future. That in turn will enable them to contribute to peace and stability,” said Jean Gough.
With the reduction of humanitarian workers going to the camps in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, UNICEF and other humanitarian organizations have established new ways to deliver critical services. Rohingya volunteers and Bangladeshi personnel have been essential to these efforts, connecting communities to critical services and information to protect against Coronavirus.
Last month, UNICEF and partners launched a door-to-door Vitamin A supplementation campaign. Rohingya volunteers proved vital in reaching 154,000 children aged 6 months to 5 years. The campaign covered 97 per cent of the target children, a remarkable outcome considering the current situation and the heavy monsoon rainfall.
As Rohingya children from Myanmar enter their fourth year as refugees in Bangladesh, efforts must be redoubled to secure a return that is voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable.
UNICEF reaffirms its gratitude to the Government and people of Bangladesh who gave protection and shelter to the Rohingya people when they needed it most. UNICEF calls upon the international community to continue its generous support to both refugee and Bangladeshi communities in Cox’s Bazar as needs become even more pressing during Coronavirus, and to sustain the hopes and dreams of refugee children for a better future.
Unicef UK’s Save Generation Covid appeal is supporting children and families impacted by Coronavirus across the world. Visit unicef.uk/donate-generationcovid to donate and help #GenerationCovid.
Notes to editors:
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- The coronavirus pandemic is the biggest and most urgent global crisis children have faced since World War Two.
- Children’s lives are being upended. Their support systems ripped away, their borders closed, their educations lost, their food supply cut off.
- An additional 6,000 children around the world could die every day from preventable causes over the next six months as the coronavirus pandemic weakens health systems and disrupts routine services like vaccinations. That’s one every 15 seconds.
- UNICEF’s “Save Generation Covid” appeal is the largest ever for children in our 73-year history, and we urgently need funds for lifesaving support and services to ensure that children survive this crisis – and thrive beyond it.
- Together we can Save Generation Covid. Visit unicef.uk/donate-generationcovid to donate and help save #generationcovid.
For more information, please contact:
Alexandra Murdoch, 0207 375 6179, AlexandraM@unicef.org.uk
Unicef UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030, firstname.lastname@example.org
UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
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