Half a million Rohingya refugee children in desperate need of assistance: IRC

The IRC and UNICEF warn of dire humanitarian concerns for child refugees.

ByJeff Costello
October 20, 2017, 4:02 PM

— -- Nearly 450,000 Rohingya refugee children are in urgent need of assistance and the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar continues to become more dire, according to a new report from the International Rescue Committee.

Up to 300,000 more Rohingya are expected to flee the violence in Myanmar over the coming weeks, seeking shelter in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh.

Myanmar’s military has retaliated against the Rohingya population after Rohingya militants launched two deadly attacks against the country's security forces.

UNICEF said Rohingya children are crossing into Bangladesh at a rate of 1,200 to 1,800 per day, frequently suffering from exhaustion and malnutrition and without necessary vaccinations. Most end up in overcrowded settlements that lack sanitation and safe water. Shelters are often just plastic sheeting over bamboo poles, but many are forced to live in the open.

PHOTO: Rohingya refugees arrive to the Bangladeshi side of the Naf river after crossing the border from Myanmar, Oct. 16, 2017.
Rohingya refugees arrive to the Bangladeshi side of the Naf river after crossing the border from Myanmar, Oct. 16, 2017.
Jorge Silva/Reuters

"They also need help in overcoming all they have endured. They need education. They need counseling. They need hope. If we don’t provide them with these things now, how will they ever grow up to be productive citizens of their societies?" UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in the report. "This crisis is stealing their childhoods. We must not let it steal their futures at the same time."

The Rohingya are an ethnic minority in Myanmar who have a long history of persecution. Refugees arriving into Bangladesh describe harrowing accounts of killings, rapes and entire villages being burned to the ground, according to the UN.

PHOTO: A Rohingya refugee woman who crossed the border from Myanmar a day before, carries her daughter as they wait to receive permission from the Bangladeshi army to continue to the refugee camps, in Palang Khali, Bangladesh, Oct. 17, 2017.
A Rohingya refugee woman who crossed the border from Myanmar a day before, carries her daughter as they wait to receive permission from the Bangladeshi army to continue to the refugee camps, in Palang Khali, Bangladesh, Oct. 17, 2017.
Jorge Silva/Reuters
PHOTO: Malnourished and suffering from diarrhea, two Rohingya refugee children cry on the floor of a makeshift shelter at the Balukali refugee camp in Bangladesh, Sept. 27, 2017.
Malnourished and suffering from diarrhea, two Rohingya refugee children cry on the floor of a makeshift shelter at the Balukali refugee camp in Bangladesh, Sept. 27, 2017.
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
PHOTO: A Rohingya girl Shafiqa Begum, who spent four days in the open after crossing over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, holds her sister at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Oct. 19, 2017.
A Rohingya girl Shafiqa Begum, who spent four days in the open after crossing over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, holds her sister Sameera, as her brother Sadiq plays with their belongings at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Oct. 19, 2017.
Dar Yasin/AP
PHOTO: Mohammad Shofait, a Rohingya boy who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, stands by the entrance of a school in Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Oct. 20, 2017.
Mohammad Shofait, a Rohingya boy who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, stands by the entrance of a school in Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Oct. 20, 2017.
Dar Yasin/AP

ABC News's Phaedra Singelis contributed to this report.

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