GENEVA, 16 March 2018 -This is a summary of what was said by Marixie Mercado, UNICEF spokesperson in Geneva – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNICEF’s portion of the Rohingya Joint Response Plan being launched later today is for $113 million to meet the needs of 720,000 children – Rohingya as well as Bangladeshi children in the communities hosting them – through the end of 2018.
The extraordinary efforts of the Bangladesh Government, with support from the humanitarian community, brought crucial protection and relief to children and families, many of whom had escaped death. The crisis continues – the Rohingya who can, are still fleeing Myanmar, with around 500 new arrivals every week over the past month. And the scale of immediate, basic, life-saving needs, remains immense. For example:
- 17 million liters of clean water are needed every day;
- 50,000 latrines are needed – of which over 28,000 are constructed;
- Over 200,000 children are still not getting any form of education.
There are new and acute risks. Assessments conducted in November and December 2017 indicated that up to 70 per cent of water points were contaminated with e.coli bacteria. A shock chlorination campaign is now underway. For wells that are contaminated this entails dismantling handpumps and delivering chlorine into the well water -- 30 tube wells have so far been decontaminated. In the coming days and weeks, thousands of volunteers will help to decontaminate water from the 6,000 water points in the camps. They will operate the water points for up to 20 hours a day, chlorinating the jerry cans and buckets people use to collect water.
The Response Plan includes the preparedness work that is going into protecting Rohingya refugees from impending monsoon rains and potential cyclones. Earlier estimates pointed to 100,000 refugees -- almost 60% of whom are children – at risk of flooding and landslides when the rains come. More recent planning estimates show that up to 220,000 are at risk of displacement, family separation and disease. Preventing the spread of disease is a critical priority. During the height of the diarrhea outbreak last year, up to 10,000 cases were being reported every week. We are preparing for 40,483 cases over three months.
Over 1600 latrines have already been decommissioned to prevent contamination and the spread of disease. We have one fully functioning diarrhea treatment center and are setting up four more. We have already set up 10 health centres on higher ground and are building nine more.
Facilities including schools and child friendly spaces and health facilities that are at risk of floods and landslides have been mapped out – these will be reinforced, decommissioned or relocated. Once the floods begin, it will become even harder for us to reach children and families with assistance, and for them to get to help. UNICEF is setting up temporary emergency shelters to prevent family separation and to ensure quick reunification, if necessary. Supplies will be prepositioned in a logistics unit close to the camps and will be moved to distribution centers via a network of porters who can transport the supplies on their backs if access becomes impossible for trucks.
The Response Plan includes longer-terms needs – most importantly education and protection, notably psychosocial support, for children. Together with partners, we have been able to reach 82,000 children between 4 and 14 years old with rudimentary learning – English, Myanmar and some maths – plus some basic life skills. The plan aims to reach 270,000 children by the end of the year – a huge undertaking, but one that can spell the difference between hope and despair for every single one of those children. We also plan to provide psychosocial support to 350,000 children – about 140,000 of whom we are now reaching. The need for this help, this healing, cannot be underestimated.
This appeal for Rohingya children does not represent a solution or answer to what drove them across the border in the first place, and the longer-term issues they face. It is an appeal to prevent sickness, abuse and death in an environment rife with risk for children; it is an appeal to provide them with a small semblance of normalcy, a little bit of childhood.
Notes for editors:
Photo and video assets can be found here: https://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIFIO0F79
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
For more information about UNICEF's work with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh visit http://uni.cf/Rohingya