Rohingya, who fled from mass killings, rape and human rights abuses in Myanmar, now refugees in Bangladesh continue to live in fear, according to a new Save the Children.
In the survey, the authors find that two thirds (66%) of children and nearly all parents and caregivers (87%) feel not safe now than when they arrived.
August 25, 2022 marks five years since the first of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya men, women, boys, and girls fled violence and persecution in Myanmar and sought refuge in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
Save The Children said that half of children surveyed said they lead an “unhappy” life, and a quarter rated their lives so poorly that they say they are suffering. “Almost 80 per cent of children said they feel depressed or stressed sometimes, most or all of the time,” they said. Parents and carers carry an even heavier burden: More than nine out of ten said they feel depressed (92%), anxious (90%) and stressed (96%) sometimes, most or all of the time, they added.
Quoting Mohammad, a father, was quoted as saying: “We have been surviving in this exile camp for five years under different terrors and limitations – just like we did in Myanmar. We have no more strength to endure this terrible life.”
“Schooling was a major concern for children, with three quarters listing a lack of quality education among their top three concerns,” said the Save the Children. A 12-year-old boy was quoted as saying:“We can’t get educated here, especially in Burmese. Now we are just learning English so we forget our own language. We can’t play outside because there isn’t enough space. In Myanmar we had a big playground and open space.”
ROHINGYA; CHILD MARRIAGE
The survey found child marriage as one of the biggest concerns among Rohingya refugees. “Almost 60% of those questioned listing it among their top three concerns. Soaring prices have left many refugee families struggling to survive, and with few income opportunities available, some see child marriage as a way to ease the financial pressure,” they said. According to recent data, more than 70% of families said that they know of a child who had been married in the past month, said the Save the Children.
Another great concern with the refuges is safety. Save the Children said that Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lock downs saw fewer humanitarian organisations on the ground and reduced camp security, creating a breeding ground for gangs and armed groups.
One of the young men surveyed said: “I felt more secure a few years ago, because gangs weren’t as extremely active as they are now and security authorities were more accountable then.”
ROHINGYA; THE CALL
Save the Children called on the international community, regional governments and the Government of Bangladesh to step up support for the Rohingya and provide them with legal status, education and work opportunities.
Onno van Manen, Country Director for Save the Children in Bangladesh, said:
“It is unacceptable that, five years after fleeing horrific violence in their own country, most Rohingya refugees still do not feel safe.
“The world may have turned its attention to other crises, but five years later, almost half a million Rohingya children are still growing up in overcrowded camps. They’re showing worrying signs of depression and anxiety, and, with limited access to schooling, they’re losing any hope they had of a better life.
“Although most Rohingya want to go back home, ongoing violence in Myanmar means that, for now, safe return isn’t an option. The Rohingya continue to be arrested and detained for moving outside of their villages and are denied citizenship and basic rights. They’re cut off from health care, education and jobs.
“The Rohingya won’t be able to go home until the root causes of their displacement are addressed. Until then, we must do more to protect the Rohingya – starting with addressing the dwindling flow of aid.”
According to the UNICEF, children still face disease outbreaks, malnutrition, inadequate educational opportunities and the risks related to neglect, exploitation and violence including gender-based violence risks, child marriage and child labour. Meanwhile, annual cycles of heavy monsoon and cyclones pose substantial risks to both Rohingya refugees and host communities.
In Myanmar, most Rohingya have no legal identity or citizenship and statelessness remains a significant concern. Rohingya children in Rakhine State, meanwhile, have been hemmed in by violence, forced displacement and restrictions on freedom of movement.
Girls and women are at particular risk of sexual and other gender-based violence in this situation, including being forced into early marriage and being left out of school as parents keep them at home.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) calls on the international community to take urgent action to ensure long-term development and sustainable humanitarian assistance for Rohingya refugees and host communities. It said that With limited access to earn a living, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh remain fully reliant on humanitarian assistance. Groups or persons with specific needs, such as persons with disabilities, female-headed households, or people without access to livelihood opportunities, reported the most significant unmet needs, leaving them vulnerable to negative coping strategies, such as human smuggling and trafficking.
Criminal trafficking networks employ different tactics to lure refugees to work outside the camp and abroad using false pretenses, coercion and abduction. As the lead agency on counter-trafficking in Cox’s Bazar, IOM has identified and assisted more than 1,300 victims of trafficking.
The Human Rights Watch has said that Rohingya have faced decades of discrimination and repression under successive Myanmar governments. Effectively denied citizenship under the 1982 Citizenship Law, they are one of the largest stateless populations in the world, it said.
UNICEF says that though basic services are provided, children still face disease outbreaks, malnutrition, inadequate educational opportunities and the risks related to neglect, exploitation and violence including gender-based violence risks, child marriage and child labour. Meanwhile, annual cycles of heavy monsoon and cyclones pose substantial risks to both Rohingya refugees and host communities.