April 16 2018

On the Ground: Helping Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

SOS staff are on the ground offering a safe place for children to receive care for trauma, nutritional support, and have access to healthcare, education and recreational activities.

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh—After experiencing unimaginable violence in Myanmar, as many as 800,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to neighboring Bangladesh with just the clothes on their backs.

Since August 2017, many refugees have been living in makeshift camps with limited resources. Bangladesh is prone to landslides and other disasters spawned by cyclones and monsoon rains, creating new challenges for the refugee children and their families.

“The area is quite hilly and people built their shacks on the steep hillsides,” Ghulam Ishaque, National Director of SOS Children´s Villages Bangladesh says. “In order to get firewood, they cut the trees and even take out the roots. The ground is exposed to erosion. If the heavy rains of the monsoon soak the soil, I am afraid that landslides will become very likely.

“If that happens, these people will face their second disaster within a short time,” he says. “To prevent people from experiencing another traumatic event, and potentially the loss of family members, we must prepare and we need to do it now."

SOS Children’s Villages has made contingency plans in the event of a natural disaster. “We will coordinate with other NGOs to set up evacuation plans, and we are already seeking locations in the host communities to set up child care spaces,” Mr Ishaque says.

With the help of supporters, SOS Children’s Villages has constructed five Child-Friendly Spaces, where hundreds of Rohingya refugee children receive daily meals and have access to recreational activities and informal education.

These children are facing severe hardships. Many are suffering from malnutrition and trauma from witnessing violence against their loved ones. The SOS Child-Friendly Spaces offer a safe place for young children to receive care for trama, learn and simply be children. 

To support these impacted communities, we are providing:

  • A safe place for more than 300 children to play and have access to informal education,
  • Nutritional screening, meals and hygiene,
  • Support in trauma healing, primary health care and referral services for specialized medical care and
  • Training and counseling for parents.

Since 1973, SOS Children’s Villages has been in Bangladesh assisting vulnerable children and families. Our strong ties to the local communities enable us to respond to the Rohingya refugee children’s immediate and long-term needs. Thanks to the continued support of our donors, we have been able to quickly and effectively launch emergency programs that address children’s unique needs during disasters or humanitarian crises. You can help by donating to our Children in Crisis Fund that supports children and families in crises, including medical care, food and shelter to areas affected by natural disasters and conflict.