Project Overview: Rohingyas are a Muslim minority in Myanmar regarded by many Myanmar Buddhists as illegal migrants from Bangladesh. The Rohingyas have lived in Myanmar for generations and the Bangladesh government has called for Myanmar to take back the refugees. The Rohingya people have faced decades of systematic discrimination, statelessness and targeted violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar. Since the 1970s Rohingya refugees have been coming to Bangladesh from Myanmar. Such persecution has forced Rohingya women, girls, boys and men into Bangladesh for many years, with significant spikes following violent attacks in 1978, 1991-1992, and again in 2016. In the 1990s, more than 250,000 resided in refugee camps in Bangladesh. In the early 2000s. This respite ended in 2015 and by 2017, an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Rohingya refugees were in Bangladesh. Most of the refugees are located along the Teknaf-Cox's Bazar highway. Hundreds of thousands have fled to other countries in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Philippines.
Yet it was August 2017 that triggered by far the largest and fastest refugee influx into Bangladesh. Since then, an estimated 745,000 Rohingya—including more than 400,000 children—have fled into Cox’s Bazar. They are denied citizens of Myanmar and have been described as the world's most persecuted minority. Myanmar has denied persecuting the Rohingyas. Yet it was August 2017 that triggered by far the largest and fastest refugee influx into Bangladesh. Since then, an estimated 745,000 Rohingya—including more than 400,000 children—have fled into Cox’s Bazar. They are denied citizens of Myanmar and have been described as the world's most persecuted minority. Myanmar has denied persecuting the Rohingyas.
It is estimated that about 60% of the Rohingyas are children and 20% children were under five of years of age. This is a growing humanitarian crisis and Sixty percent of all refugees are children are at the heart of this crisis. The first thing you see here in the different Rohingya camps is the large number of children. You see children who have not slept for days, they are weak and hungry. After such a long and challenging journey many children are sick, need health care and traumatized. As in any humanitarian emergency, the risk of gender-based violence increases significantly as well putting women and girls at heightened risk. It’s a child protection disaster waiting to happen, the unaccompanied children are at particular risk for human trafficking, sexual abuse, child labor and child marriage. Adolescent girls are at risk of gender-based violence (GBV). Child marriage has become a coping strategy as Rohingya see child marriage as a protective measure to provide for their daughters, as well as enhancing the family's economic situation by reducing the number of dependents. This often leads to early pregnancy and sexual and physical abuse from their husband as well as abuse from in-laws. Over 450,000 Rohingya children, who are of school-going age, are currently out of school in Bangladesh including 270,000 who have arrived since August 2017. The needs of the children include food and nutritional support, basic health care and psychological counseling. As reported in the daily Prothom Alo that everyday 3-4 girls are victim of sexually assaulted or being raped. Therefore, there is a high demand to create protective mechanisms for Children, youth and young women.
Tensions between the Rohingya and host communities are worsening. Ukhia and Teknaf are highly vulnerable upazillas with poor living conditions and coverage of basic services. Livelihood activities and markets have been significantly affected by the refugee influx - the World Bank estimates that the crisis has increased poverty rates by 52 per cent in the host community. Eighty-five per cent of participants in a recent survey stated that they did not feel safe having Rohingya refugees nearby. They perceive that the influx has led to an increase in the cost of living (79%), traffic accidents (74%), and crime (24%).
In partnership with UNICEF, Aparajeyo-Bangladesh began work in the child protection response ("Creating a Protective Environment to empower the children, adolescents and youth and the community people by enhancing their capacity and make them responsive at camps and host communities in Cox's Bazar") in Rohingya camps 15, 16 and 21 in November 2018 (Therefore this report reflects the progress of work from 25 November 2018 to 24 November 2019). They have been operating 8 Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) and 8 Adolescent Friendly Spaces (AFS) and 16 Child Friendly Information Desks (CFID/ Information hub). Aparajeyo-Bangladesh and UNICEF will now make the transition to an integrated response, in line with the UNICEF Adolescent Strategy