A new report highlights the experiences of Rohingya children in the refugee camps, six months on from their arrival.
‘Childhood Interrupted’ was conducted by Save the Children, World Vision and Plan International and it outlines the abuses and fears young refugees face on a daily basis. While wild animals like Elephants and snakes are recorded in the report, threatening men and human traffickers are also dangers to children. Young respondents said they didn’t collect firewood because of the lurking ‘forest men’ who would attack them. One girl said,
Everybody suffers when collecting firewood. There was once a girl who was raped when collecting firewood at night
Child trafficking is also a serious risk to children with researchers finding 28 known cases since August. Children said that they tended to stay more at home and moved in groups for safety when they went around the camp. Concerned mothers were more vigilant over them saying,
kidnappers are moving around, they might take our children
Despite the dangers, the report does reveal some positive aspects of life for younger refugees. The call to prayer which happens five times daily was said to make them feel more like part of the community. Equally, seeing aid workers and Bangladeshi soldiers around also made them feel safer.
The collaborative report concludes, calling for greater awareness raising surrounding human trafficking, more child friendly layouts as well as improved safety for teenage girls. Mark Pierce, Country Director for Save The Children in Bangladesh said,
We cannot expect Rohingya children to overcome the traumatic experiences they’ve suffered when exposed to further insecurity and fears of violence in the camps. The overwhelming message from these children is that they are afraid – afraid of wild animals, afraid of going to the toilet, afraid of being attacked while collecting firewood, afraid of being taken in the night, afraid of what the future holds. This is no way for a child to live, especially after having fled violence and horror in Myanmar. These children need ongoing support to help them feel more secure
SIX MONTHS ON: NEW REPORT REVEALS EXTENT OF FEAR AND DISTRESS EXPERIENCED BY ROHINGYA CHILDREN WHO FLED TO BANGLADESH; Save The Children; https://www.savethechildren.net/article/six-months-new-report-reveals-extent-fear-and-distress-experienced-rohingya-children-who
‘CHILDHOOD INTERRUPTED’ – CHILDREN’S VOICES FROM THE ROHINGYA REFUGEE CRISIS; Save the Children, World Vision, Plan International; https://www.savethechildren.net/sites/default/files/Childhood%20Interrupted%20Non-embargoed%20low%20res.pdf