Bangladesh + 1 more

Children in urgent need of psychological support after fleeing Myanmar, say DEC charities

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Displaced children arriving in Bangladesh are exhibiting signs of trauma such as nightmares and loss of speech after witnessing horrific violence in Myanmar and are in urgent need of psychological and emotional support say Disasters Emergency Committee charities.

As well as providing food, water and shelter to more than half a million mainly Rohingya people, DEC member charities have identified psychological and emotional support services as a critical need.

“Children are visibly traumatised and distressed, and many have stopped speaking,” said Evan Schuurman, who’s part of Save the Children’s humanitarian response team in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

“Some parents tell us their children are suffering nightmares, others are afraid they’ll be attacked in the dark.

“The psychosocial needs of children are enormous and really obvious when you walk through the camps and makeshift settlements. They urgently need emotional and psychological support to help deal with the horror they have been through.”

Most of those arriving in Bangladesh are women and girls – some of whom have reportedly been raped and sexually abused. Hundreds of children at the camps have been separated from their families and report having witnessed violence first hand.

12-year-old Azmeda fled her home in Myanmar after her village was razed to the ground. “I saw lots of houses on fire and so many dead bodies,” she said. “Many of them were mutilated. I was so scared, I thought I would become one of those dead bodies myself.”

DEC partner charities including Save the Children and the Red Cross are providing child-friendly spaces for hundreds of children many of whom are unaccompanied or separated from their parents. The temporary locations allow children to receive 24-hour support and protection while attempts are made to find living family members.

Many children are anxious and frightened and suffer from toxic stress - prolonged exposure to high levels of stress from trauma, violence and neglect, which can lead to long term psychological damage.

To make a donation to the DEC Emergency Appeal visit www.dec.org.uk, call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 610, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word SUPPORT to 70000.

The UK Government will match pound for pound the first £3 million donated by the public to the DEC Emergency Appeal.

Stay up to date with developments in Bangladesh, the emergency response and the fundraising efforts with the DEC on twitter: www.twitter.com/decappeal or on Facebook via www.facebook.com/DisastersEmergencyCommittee.

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Notes to editors:

· Media enquiries please call 020 7387 0200 or 07930 999 014 (out of hours)

· The DEC brings 13 leading UK aid charities together in times of crisis: ActionAid, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Oxfam, Plan International UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision; all collectively raising money to reach those in need quickly.

· Funds raised will go towards humanitarian assistance in Bangladesh. A number of DEC charities are prepared to respond in affected areas of Myanmar if access opens up.

· To make a postal donation make cheques payable to ‘DEC Emergency Appeal’ and mail to ‘PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA’.

· Donations can be made at any high street bank and at Post Office counters.

· To donate £5 by text send the word SUPPORT to 70000. The full £5 will go to the DEC Emergency Appeal. Donors must be 16 years or over and have bill payers’ permission. Texts are free and donations will be added to the bill.

o Shelter - £30 could provide emergency shelter for one family

o Hygiene - £50 could provide ten families with hygiene kits

o Food - £100 could provide two families with food for a month

o Water - £5 could provide a family with clean water for a week

· UK Government match funding will go directly to the DEC and provide vital emergency supplies. This new funding will double the impact of the public’s own donations up to £3 million and ensure that charities working on the ground can reach even more people in need.