International Children’s Day

A call for attention for Rohingya children

Today, on the occasion of International Children’s Day (June 1), the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) demands more attention and international help for Rohingya children living in refugee camps in Bangladesh. After the military coup in Myanmar in 2021, the number of Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh increased to more than a million. More than half of them are under 18 years of age. “Without hope of being able to return, they live in huts made of bamboo and thin plastic tarpaulins. The overcrowded and dirty refugee camps are prone to fires. In 2021 and 2022, there were 222 fires, and 60 of them were caused by arson,” stated Jasna Causevic, STP expert on genocide prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. “Further, there are frequent natural catastrophes. According to UN estimates, cyclone Mocha affected hundreds of thousands of people living in refugee camps in Myanmar – in the states of Rakhine, Chin, and in the regions of Magway and Sagaing. Around 4.5 million people are living there, and 3.1 million of them had already been living in such precarious conditions that they were considered especially vulnerable.” Now, hundreds of thousands are without food, water, medicine, and a roof over their head.

The Rohingya children in Bangladesh are suffering from limited freedom of movement and they don’t have any prospects for education. Living in Cox’s Bazar, the largest and most densely populated refugee camp, is dangerous. Children are especially likely to fall victim to mistreatment, exploitation, and gender-based violence. Poor sanitation is causing diseases. Around 45 percent of the Rohingya families are suffering from malnutrition. Around 21,000 Rohingya refugees lost their shelter in a camp near Cox’s Bazar in 2021. The government of Bangladesh is planning to resettle more refugees to the island of Bhasan Char. Despite protests – and despite the fact that the United Nations had originally labeled the island as uninhabitable – around 28,000 Rohingya were already brought to the island against their will. According to reports, the people are suffering from sexual harassment and mistreatment by the police forces and marine officers on Bhasan Char.

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child also applies to the Rohingya children,” Causevic warned. “Children’s rights are human rights. They must apply to all children. It is a shame that the international community tends to forget this time and time again.” The regime in Myanmar should be held accountable – without delay. After years of suffering, the Rohingya must be able to return in safety and dignity. “If we don’t take action to save these children, in a coalition with other democratic states, we will fail – not only as politicians, human rights activists, and helpers, but also as parents who don’t care about the suffering of the children,” Causevic emphasized.