European Union Commissioner says 40,000 lone children among Rohingya refugees

November 1, 2017 10:01 pm
Young Muslim refugees walk back to their temporary makeshift shelters at the Moynar Ghona refugee camp in the Bangladeshi district of Ukhia on November 1, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides says more than 40,000 unaccompanied child refugees are among Rohingya Muslims who fled and entered Bangladesh when an upsurge in violence occurred late August.
Stylianides described the refugee crisis in the Bangladeshi border city of Cox’s Bazar as “the biggest in decades.”
More than 600,000 desperate Rohingya Muslims have fled the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and crossed into Bangladesh since late August.
“I was shocked during the visit in the camps by the magnitude of what I saw. The magnitude of the influxes in a very short time, it’s completely unique,” Stylianides said.
He added that the number of unaccompanied minors now stood at “over 40,000,” adding, “I think this figure alone can demonstrate the scale of the problem.”
Aid agencies have raised concern over the appalling humanitarian crisis in the camps where refugees have faced acute shortages of shelter, water, healthcare and sanitation.
Rohingya refugees wait to collect relief aid at the Thainkhali refugee camp in the Bangladeshi district of Ukhia on November 1, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Stylianides told reporters in Dhaka that the situation in Cox’s Bazar “requires a comprehensive and a coordinated humanitarian response.”
“The number of people, their needs, their trauma is beyond imagination. The number of children with acute malnutrition is also beyond imagination.” 
UN officials and rights activists have also expressed concern that many lone children are at risk of being trafficked.
Stylianides said, “The government of Bangladesh and Myanmar should continue to engage in dialogue.”
The commissioner also slammed Myanmar for denying aid agencies and media access to Rakhine.
Myanmar’s army renewed its bloody crackdown on the ethnic minority population in August. Authorities in Myanmar, led by de facto leader Aug San Suu Kyi, have been tightly controlling access to Rakhine since August, when purported attacks by Rohingya fighters prompted a brutal military response.
The crackdown, backed by radical Buddhist monks, has left scores of Rohingya villages torched and completely destroyed.
Myanmar’s government denies full citizenship to Rohingya Muslims, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Witnesses and rights groups have reported systematic attacks, including rape, murder and arson, at the hands of the army and Buddhist mobs against the Rohingya.
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