• Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022
  • Last Update : 03:54 pm

Thousands of orphan Rohingya children yet to find safe shelter

Thousands of orphan Rohingya children yet to find safe shelter
A three-year-old boy with messy short hair was looking for a familiar face in the crowd of people at a relief centre in Kutupalong refugee camp. Mohammad Shafiq was sitting under a temporary shed. When asked who he was with, a woman, Noor Ayesha came forward and said she found Shafiq by the Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf highway standing alone and crying. “I noticed Shafiq, crying alone by the road when I was resting after a long walk to come here. Initially I assumed that his relatives are somewhere around here but later I found that he was there by himself. He told me his name but he does not know the name of his parents or his native village,” said Ayesha. “He only said his parents were taken away and they did not come back. He does not have any idea what happened to them. He remains quiet all the time and stares at people’s faces. May be he is looking for a known face,” she added. Ayesha found Shafiq two days after her arrival at Kutupalong in September. Shafiq has been since been staying with Ayesha’s family along with her five children. She said: I cannot look after Shafiq indefinitely. I hope someone will come and take his responsibility.” Cox's Bazar Social Welfare Office Deputy Director Pritom Kumar Chowdhury told the Dhaka Tribune: “We have identified 12,801 unaccompanied orphans among around 2.5 million children who recently arrived in Bangladesh. We are working on building a separate camp to ensure their safety.” Department of Social Service of Bangladesh is working to ensure safe shelter for the orphaned refugee children. According to United Nations, up to 60% of the new arrivals are children, and 30% are children under five years old, 7% are infants under one year old, and 5% refugee households are headed by children. Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights Watch’s Emergencies director and an expert in humanitarian crises told the Dhaka Tribune that refugee orphan and unaccompanied children are in more vulnerable condition. “The orphaned refugee children need family support within the chaotic situation of the camps. They do not have anyone to talk to about what they have gone through. And they do not even have any support for their daily needs,” said Peter Bouckaert. Bouckaert suggested that these children need counselling and access to school in order to return to a normal life in the shelter. Unicef Executive Director Anthony Lake said: “This is both a humanitarian and a strategic issue. If these children grow up with the memories of sufferings they are more likely to be traumatised for a longer period in their lives.” Over the past 47 days, 536,000 people have fled Myanmar and arrived in Cox’s Bazar, according to an IOM report.