Sixty percent of the total forcibly displaced Rohingya people who have fled Myanmar since August 25 are children under 18, including hundreds who came into Bangladesh without family members, need extra support to ensure their emotional wellbeing and also to avert the risks they are exposed to, says Save the Children.
Many of the unaccompanied children are highly distressed or traumatized as they have been through a dreadful experience while fleeing Myanmar and travelling long distances to Bangladesh, through rain and mud. Many became orphans when their parents were killed, often in front of their own eyes. These children are the most vulnerable and at high risk of trafficking, child labor, sexual abuse and other threats.
According to UNICEF there are almost 1800 unaccompanied children reported till 30 September, who are either separated from their parents or lost their parents in the violence. Save the Children has been registering un-accompanied and separated children at both Kutupalong and Nayapara registered camps. A number of 726 children have been identified at Kutupalong alone as of October 2, 2017. Among them, there are 409 girls and 317 boys, living in extremely difficult conditions.
The international aid agency is working to accommodate these children in “Child-Friendly Spaces” located at Kutupalong in Cox’s Bazar, where the children can stay and play safe. “I don’t know where my parents are, I came here alone after walking miles. Now I am staying here and playing carom and other games with my new friends” says Rozi an 8 year old girl who is staying in a child safe space, operated by Save the Children.
‘A number of children would require long-term support to recover wholly from the trauma and distress they have experienced’- said Jamal Uddin, Project Officer of Save the Children working at Kutupalong. Early childhood development and educational interventions for this large segment of young arrivals are needed, Jamal further added.
With the support of UNICEF, Save the Children is going to establish another 30 child-friendly spaces in order to cater to the needs of children from newly arrived communities. Due to the large number of unaccompanied children, more child-friendly spaces are required, the agency stressed.