16 October 2017

SOS Children’s Villages Bangladesh prepares to respond to Rohingya crisis

Chittagong, Bangladesh, October 16, 2017 - More than 500,000 Rohingya, one of the most persecuted minority groups in the world, have fled from their villages in Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh after experiencing unimaginable violence.  Survivors, now residing in refugee camps in Bangladesh, recount horror stories of government officials setting fire to villages, killing children and families, and sexually assaulting women and girls.

A brutal crackdown on Rohingya by Myanmar’s military in Rakhine, a state that borders Bangladesh, has left villages burnt to the ground, forcing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh in search of safety. However, upon arrival to the refugee camps, they face another set of challenges: humanitarian agencies are struggling to provide shelter, food, medical assistance and clean water for thousands of Rohingya men, women and children.

The situation as it pertains to children is alarming. An estimated 14,000 children are suffering from malnutrition, and more than 1,400 have been identified as unaccompanied or separated from their families. Furthermore, thousands of pregnant women are without adequate medical assistance.

An SOS Children’s Villages supporter* who is responding to the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh, shared that "children are walking through mountains and crossing rivers to get here.  Now that they're here, it's hot, it's raining, and they have no shelter.  It's extremely crowded and many of these children are alone.”

SOS Children’s Villages, which has provided support to vulnerable children and communities in Bangladesh since 1973, is preparing to respond to the urgent needs of Rohingya refugees at the Kutupalong and Balukhali camps in Bangladesh. Both refugee camps are within 125 miles of Chittagong, where SOS Children’s Villages has a village, youth facility and other programs.

The emergency response program will provide:

  • Five Child-Friendly Spaces (CFSs) for an estimated 300 children ages three to eight. The CFSs will offer a safe place for children to receive care for trauma, learn and play.
  • Nutritional screenings to ensure that children are receiving the food they need to grow and thrive. 
  • Assistance for breastfeeding mothers with children under six months.
  • Primary health care and referral services for specialized medical care.
“We at SOS Children’s Villages are deeply concerned about the Rohingya child refugees in Bangladesh and the safety, health and nutritional challenges they face," said Shubha Murthi, Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Asia of SOS Children's Villages.

"There is an urgent need for the world to take action on caring for and protecting their interests, so they can live and grow in a conflict-free environment and have the chance to experience and enjoy their childhood," she continued.

*Name withheld to protect identity.