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More than a thousand children alone and at risk in Bangladesh camps, warns DEC

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More than a thousand children alone and at risk in Bangladesh camps, warns DEC

Emma Thompson makes a personal plea for help

DEC member charities are calling for urgent funding to help reach more than a thousand children who are alone and at risk after fleeing violence in Myanmar and crossing into neighbouring Bangladesh.

Save the Children has registered at least 1,213 children who are separated from their families or have lost the people closest to them. Most are already traumatised and the charities are warning that the added threat of trafficking or assault means bringing them to safety or reuniting them with their families is vital.

Emma Thompson, ActionAid ambassador, who visited Myanmar in 2011, said:

“Having visited Myanmar six years ago, the suffering of the Rohingya people is devastating to witness. More than half of those fleeing Myanmar and arriving in Bangladesh are children. Many are frightened and alone, separated from their families in the panic to escape, and in desperate need of food and shelter. The DEC charities are there now, and with our support they can help so many more people. Please donate.”

It is mainly Rohingya women and children who have fled violence in Myanmar. More than half of them, 300,000, are children.

Lisa Akero, Protection, Gender and Inclusion Delegate for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said: “These are people with a strong sense of community, they support each other’s families and look after each other’s children, but it is obvious that the needs are huge and these communities need support. If we cannot meet the need, there is a growing risk of violence, exploitation and continued trauma.” DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed said: “Being separated from your children is a parent’s greatest fear, and over a thousand children are alone in the camps. “We urgently need more funds so that DEC member charities can provide even more emergency relief and protection to children who desperately need to find their families. We hope the British public will continue to rise to the occasion and lend their generous support to this appeal.”

The Red Cross is helping to reconnect people with their families, and Save the Children is helping children with emotional care.

The DEC emergency appeal is enabling its member charities to continue to help the estimated 536,000 men, women and children who have fled to Bangladesh.

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 £5 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.

ENDS

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.

· Photos and case studies can be found here:

The mother was killed in Myanmar and the children made the dangerous journey to Bangladesh alone. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/46phitr3qazbkjc/AACve4fu1ZWnS0FjpQ9z6n48a?dl=0

The two children witnessed their parents being shot. They are now staying with an aunt in Bangladesh. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/463vwri1idj8nkd/AACWt9nTkXHxKRaV6mxFhVVga?dl=0

Reunited story: The mother was separated from her children during the journey from Myanmar to Bangladesh. They have now been reunited. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/g2vl3c3lg8usl8j/AADcjZTLvUwUDJh_kuXU79Bba?dl=0

DEC member charities’ response: 

In Bangladesh*, 11 DEC member charities are already responding directly and/or through partners to this crisis. The other two members have in-country partners who are already responding; these members are currently drawing up plans for how to best support them.  

ActionAid  is providing safe drinking water and sanitation through tube wells, latrines, separate bathing areas for women, and women's hygiene kits (containing sanitary items, soap, clothing etc); food packages; essential relief supplies; and safe spaces for women to help them access information and referrals to other services (e.g. pyscho-social/medical/ gender-based violence case management). 

Age International  and their partners will be providing water, sanitation and mobile health stations to help 50,000 older people and their families, especially those with chronic health conditions, and to help prevent an outbreak of communicable diseases. 

British Red Cross has reached over 130,000 people with emergency supplies including health services, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, livelihood support, nutrition and food, emergency shelter and essential relief supplies. The team are working to build safe latrines, safe showers for women and more accessible water points. Over 1,000 people have been reconnected with their families through the Red Cross. The Red Cross are also setting up a field hospital with 60 beds, plus 40 isolation beds in case of a disease outbreak (such as cholera). Specially trained Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers are also providing emotional and mental health wellbeing services and safe spaces for adults and children.

Forty local aid workers from CAFOD’s partner,** Caritas Bangladesh** - supported by many volunteers - have begun emergency aid distributions for vulnerable families in Kutupalong and Moinargona Camp, and in Teknaf Upazila. They are distributing dal (pulse), salt, edible oil and sugar to each family, as well as kitchen utensils.  

CARE International has provided 3,500 people with ready to eat meals and essential basics such as umbrellas to people with no shelter at all (2,500). Upcoming distributions include: food packages; emergency shelter items; counselling, especially to pregnant women; clean delivery kits to pregnant women; dignity kits to women and girls; referral services and hygiene promotion. 

Christian Aid is working with local partners to provide emergency shelter, water, food, sanitation and hygiene services. It has set up a medical team, consisting of doctors, paramedics and nurses, which is treating between 200 and 300 people per day in an informal camp in Cox's Bazar. Christian Aid has been providing humanitarian assistance in camps for internally-displaced people in Central Rakhine with local partners.

Concern Worldwide are on the ground providing 48,000 people with food rations and are working to ensure lifesaving nutrition support for 100,000, mainly children, pregnant and breastfeeding women. Two nutrition centres have been built and are up and running and a third is under construction. Concern will provide water, shelter and ongoing food assistance to more than 100,000 people.

Islamic Relief  is planning to reach more than 37,000 people with emergency relief assistance over the next two months.

Oxfam has reached 180,000 people in Bangladesh by providing clean drinking water, portable toilets and sanitation facilities, plastic sheets, and other essential supplies. In total, Oxfam is planning to reach more than 200,000 people.

Plan International will work with children and families to prevent and respond to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation as well as supporting separated and unaccompanied children. The work will also focus on establishing or providing water, sanitation and hygiene materials and promoting good health and hygiene practices. Plan is aiming to reach 90,000 people over a 12-month period.

Save the Children has distributed food packs to 15,090 households, shelter kits to 2,785 households, hygiene kits to 4,794 households, kitchen kits to 3,300 households. A total of 3,939 children have been supported by Save the Children through child protection activities, 250 unaccompanied and separated children have received psychosocial support and 20 Child friendly spaces have been set up, supporting 2,975 children. An Emergency Health Unit has been deployed, working with Save The Children's in-country health team, focusing on setting up nine health posts. Overall, Save the Children is aiming to reach 190,000 beneficiaries, including 130,000 children.

Tearfund is doing on-the-ground medical work through its partner COAST Trust - handing out medication and ensuring those needing urgent medical assistance can see a doctor.

World Vision  is providing emergency food including fortified biscuits, rice, lentils, sugar and cereals to more than 3,000 households for an initial two months.