Protecting Rohingya children in Bangladesh

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Meet baby Kismat

The first days of Kismat’s life have been filled with fear and uncertainty. Her mother, 18-year-old Hazera, gave birth at a UNICEF-supported health centre just days after arriving at a camp for Rohingya refugees.

Before Kismat was born, Hazera and her family were forced to flee their homes in Myanmar. The family spent 10 days hiding in a forest after soldiers attacked their village. It took heavily pregnant Hazera five days to walk across the border to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. “I was in so much pain,” she said. “I feel safe here.”

This is not the start in life that she had imagined for her daughter.

From August 2017, more than 680,000 Rohingya people, around 60% of them children,  fled Myanmar for Bangladesh. They joined 300,000 people who had already been displaced, forming what is now the largest refugee camp in the world.

Newborn Rohingya refugee Kismat Ara, sleeps in the Unicef-supported birthing centre in the Kutupalong camp for Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Unicef/2017/LeMoyne

Newborn Rohingya refugee Kismat sleeps at the UNICEF-supported birthing centre where she was born. The camp is so large that it's a 4-5 km walk for her exhausted mother to return to their tent.


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What is happening in Myanmar and Bangladesh?

Who are the Rohingya people?

The Rohingya are an ethnic group, mostly Muslim, who have lived in the area now known as western Myanmar for centuries.

Why are they being persecuted?

The Rohingya people are stateless, unrecognised as citizens by the Myanmar Government, and because of this they frequently face discrimination, violence and extreme poverty.

What's happening now for Rohingya refugees?

After August 2017, thousands of Rohingya refugees fled Myanmar into Bangladesh, with thousands arriving every week in the first months, creating what is now the biggest refugee camp in the world. UNICEF staff are still on the ground providing life-saving services and supplies that will help prevent and treat disease, protect children from danger and exploitation, and provide a safe space to learn and play.

How is UNICEF helping Rohingya refugee children?

From January to December 2018, UNICEF and partners:

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Expanded access to education to 145,000 Rohingya refugee children.

Provided 1.2 million people over one year-old with an oral cholera vaccine.

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Treated more than 24,000 children for severe acute malnutrition.

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Provided cash grants to 50 primary schools and 14 secondary schools.

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Reached almost 350,000 Rohingya refugees with access to safe drinking water.

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Reached more than 160,000 Rohingya children with psychosocial support services.

Providing a safe place to play

Samira, 12, goes to the UNICEF-supported child-friendly space in the camp in Cox’s Bazar. “I love coming here,” she says. “We get to use the blackboard, learn letters, play with different material and write poems.”

So far UNICEF has set up 42 child-friendly spaces in Cox’s Bazar, like the one that Samira goes to, which provide a safe space for nearly 115,000 children.

Samira remembers the life that she has had to leave behind. “Back in Myanmar, we had a wooden house with five cows and six goats,” she said. “I really miss my home. I don’t like it here. It’s dirty and it stinks.”

Samira, 12, fled her home in Myanmar and now lives with her family in a camp for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. She goes to the Unicef-supported child-friendly space where she has a chance to learn, play and remember what it's like to be a child again. Unicef/2017/Yoo

Samira, 12, is able to learn and play in safety at the UNICEF-supported child friendly space in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

There’s still much more we can do

It is a huge challenge to provide the support and services the Rohingya refugees need in Bangladesh. They are spread across official refugee camps, makeshift settlements, host communities and new encampments near to the border. While some of these places have humanitarian services and basic infrastructure, they are overcrowded, difficult to access and extremely vulnerable to floods and landslides during the 6 month rainy season.

But with your help, we can reach more children like Kismat and Samira with life-saving care and protection.


Help us reach more Rohingya children

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