At least 1.3 million children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance across the Bay of Bengal region following severe weather over the past six days, Unicef has warned in a press release.
Devastation wrought by Cyclone Mora in Myanmar and Bangladesh, and torrential monsoon rains across Sri Lanka have left children homeless and in need of protection, nutrition and health services.
“Children who have had their lives upended by brutal storms, severe flooding and landslides, are now threatened by a lack of safe drinking water, inadequate hygiene services and limited access to healthcare,” said Unicef Director of Emergency Programmes Manuel Fontaine in the statement.
“We must move quickly to ensure that services and supplies are in place to keep children safe and to stem the spread of communicable diseases like diarrhea, cholera or respiratory infections.”
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According to the press release, Unicef is particularly concerned about children and families who were already displaced and living in precarious conditions before the bad weather struck – this includes some 74,000 Rohingya refugees who recently crossed into Bangladesh and were sheltering in an area badly affected by Cyclone Mora, and 120,000 displaced people in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
“The sad reality is these children have now been hit by double humanitarian crises,” said Fontaine.
“Displaced Rohingya children in Myanmar and Bangladesh, for example, were in many cases already struggling to access essential services even before the storm struck. It’s imperative that we reach these vulnerable and marginalized groups – as well as those living in poor communities who will be far more susceptible to fallout from these storms – with the support they need.”