Unaccompanied children pour into Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh

World Today

Bangladesh is pledging to build temporary shelters for Rohingya refugees, with the help of international aid agencies. Nearly a million Rohingya Muslims have poured into the country to escape violence in neighboring Myanmar. Among them are thousands of unaccompanied children.

CGTN’s Barnaby Lo reports from Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh.

They’re just candies, but to these Rohingya children, they’re a luxury. Everything they have now – their shelters, clothes, and their meals – are handouts. They’ve lost most of what they have since fleeing violence in Myanmar, including for some of them, their parents.

The United Nations and other aid agencies estimate thousands of Rohingya children have either been orphaned, or have been separated from their parents, meaning they came here to Bangladesh unaccompanied.

Seven-year old Jonnotara and five-year old Shafiqul Islam say they saw their parents get shot by Myanmar soldiers while they were fleeing. Their grandmother, Rasheda Khatun, believes they’ve died.

“I’ve been trying to make them understand what happened, but they still wake up in the middle of the night, crying,” RASHEDA said.

After arriving at the camp, Rasheda says she spent eleven days searching for her grandchildren before finding them. She’s grateful to former neighbors who took care of the children in the meantime.

A child protection specialist from the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says one positive outcome of the crisis is that the refugees are helping each other. Still, there’s a lot more work to be done.

“There are children that are falling through the cracks right now,” said UNICEF’s Marie de la Soudiere. “I’m painting perhaps a too rosy picture because I know what can be done, because it’s been done in other emergency situations.”

“And as long as we really, really take seriously the need to support the family so they can support the child, so the children do not end up in orphanages,” she added. “This is our big worry.”

A worry Rasheda shares because, while she’s more than willing to take care of her grandchildren, she’s afraid she might not live long enough to do that.

MORE: Rohingya children at risk during Myanmar refugee crisis

The UNHCR reports as the #Rohingya refugee crisis in #Myanmar worsens, aid workers are struggling to protect the most vulnerable among them—unaccompanied children. CGTN’s Joshua Barlow reports.