UNICEF: 200,000 Ro­hingya refugee chil­dren suf­fer­ing from water-borne dis­eases


DHAKA: More than 200,000 Ro­hingya refugee chil­dren are suf­fer­ing from di­ar­rhea, pneu­mo­nia and other wa­ter­borne dis­eases, said UNICEF Bangladesh.

“Af­ter such a long and chal­leng­ing jour­ney (from Myanmar), many chil­dren are sick and they need health care right away. They’re trau­ma­tized, and need pro­tec­tion and psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port,” said the head of child pro­tec­tion at UNICEF Bangladesh, Jean Lieby.

“Many ba­bies were born af­ter their mother’s ar­rival in Bangladesh. This is a grow­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis, and chil­dren are at the heart of it; 60 per­cent of the refugees are chil­dren.”

Doc­tors Without Bor­ders (MSF) and the Bangladeshi gov­ern­ment have launched mo­bile med­i­cal units for Ro­hingya camps to ad­dress ba­sic health care needs.

“We’re a group of 12 doc­tors work­ing at Ku­tu­palang camp for the last four days,” said Dr. Miza­nur Rah­man Apu, a physi­cian work­ing un­der the Bangladeshi Health Min­istry.

Ad­vanced treat­ment

“We’re treat­ing chil­dren for de­hy­dra­tion, fever and other water-borne dis­eases. In crit­i­cal cases, we re­fer them to lo­cal health com­plexes, satel­lite clin­ics and other med­i­cal in­sti­tutes, where they’ll get ad­vanced treat­ment. Here we’re try­ing to ad­dress ba­sic life­sav­ing re­quire­ments.”

Abul Hashem, a co­or­di­na­tor at Ku­tu­palang camp, said: “Thou­sands of Ro­hingya are in dire need of med­i­cal as­sis­tance. MSF and Bangladeshi doc­tors are try­ing their best, but de­mand is so high they can’t cope.”

He added: “De­mand is in­creas­ing ev­ery day. Ev­ery day there’s news of chil­dren and el­derly refugees dy­ing in dif­fer­ent camps.”

He said he buried four chil­dren in the last two days, all of whom died from di­ar­rhea and fever.

The UN Pop­u­la­tion Fund (UNFPA) said 13 per­cent of Ro­hingya women flee­ing vi­o­lence in Myanmar are ei­ther preg­nant or lac­tat­ing moth­ers in need of life­sav­ing sup­plies and health care ser­vices for new-borns.

“Women don’t stop get­ting preg­nant or hav­ing ba­bies just be­cause an emer­gency hits,” said Iori Kato, act­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the UNFPA Bangladesh.

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