GENEVA, 10th January, 2018 (WAM) -- The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, has said that more than 60,000 Rohingya children remain nearly forgotten, trapped in 'appalling' camps in central Rakhine where the shelters teeter on stilts above garbage and excrement.
"Partners have identified about 20 children separated from their families during the violence but estimate the total number to be at least 100 – most of whom are in parts of northern Rakhine state that they still cannot access," Marixie Mercado, UNICEF spokesperson, told journalists in Geneva yesterday during a briefing on her visit to Myanmar from 6th December 2017 through 3rd January.
She painted a harrowing picture of the situation in Rakhine, noting that prior to 25 August, when the most recent outbreak of violence occurred, UNICEF had been treating 4,800 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition; these children are no longer receiving this life-saving treatment.
"All 12 of the outpatient therapeutic treatment centres run by our partners are closed because they were either looted, destroyed or staff can't access them," she explained.
Ms. Mercado called the inability of UN agencies to access vulnerable Rohingya children who remain in northern Myanmar "troubling," saying that while "the eyes of the world" are focused on the 655,000 refugees who have fled across the border into Bangladesh, 60,000 Rohingya children remain "almost forgotten," trapped in squalid camps in central Rakhine.
"The Rohingya children who do remain in rural areas are almost totally isolated. We hear of high levels of toxic fear in children from both Rohingya and Rakhine communities," she said.
She stressed that UNICEF stood ready to work with the Myanmar Government and Rakhine state authorities to provide humanitarian relief to all children – regardless of ethnicity, religion, or status – but needed unlimited access.