The children of Rohinga refugees in Bangladesh: a global responsibility

Fahima Hossain

16976597_10155086580418680_1592759875_nBangladesh is known as one of the most densely populated countries in the world with almost 170 million people. Although in recent years Bangladesh has significantly developed, health and education poverty is still deep and widespread. In addition to this, nearly one million Rohingya refugees have entered Bangladesh from Myanmar since September 2017. Almost 60 percent of these refugees are children, and 60 babies are being born every day in camps in Bangladesh. The government of Bangladesh allowed into the country a large influx of Rohinga refugees, who were escaping massacre by the Burmese military.

Today is the International Day for Protection of Children since 1 June 1950[1]. In many countries, it is celebrated as Children’s Day on, in Estonia too. This date varies in different countries, for example Bangladesh celebrates children’s day on 17th of March. This day should not be confused with the United Nations Universal Children’s Day which was established in 1954 and is celebrated on November 20th each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare. On this day UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child 1959. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. These conventions guarantee many rights for the children for those countries who are the signatories of those conventions.

Today I am thinking about the future of almost half a million refugee children in Bangladesh. How the rights guaranteed by the conventions will be guaranteed for those itinerant less fortunate children? There are almost 500,000 children at these camps but currently only 1/3 of them has access to education because of the lack of facilities and teachers. If it continues for long, this generation of children will not have proper education and these illiterate children will eventually be vulnerable to violence which will interrupt their process of mental development and eventually make them lifetime criminals.

According to UNICEF, many children crossed the border into Bangladesh without parents experienced severe violence to their family members. Many of them were injured themselves and recovering from psychological trauma. This was not the choice of those ill-fated children who will subsequently grow violent themselves. Do we need a future generation like this? What will happen to the world which is already a precarious place?  Does this world need any more violence or hatred? Is it fair on a country like Bangladesh which already has too much on its plate?

Bangladesh has a long-term experience with disaster management as the cyclone is not one-off thing that has made the country able for a rapid response to a crisis, also refugee crisis. Also local people have helped to decrease casualties. Furthermore, Bangladesh is one of the top three countries of United Nations peace keeping operations, and the military experience has helped a lot to create a ‘safe space’ for the women, children and elderly in the camps. Many international organizations and NGOs have been involved with these gigantic tasks but there is so much more to do in order to provide proper food, clean water, vaccination, shelter during monsoon etc.

The guarantee of these basic rights of the children is a pledge of the global community. This positive responsibility must be borne by everyone globally because a child is a child, irrespective of his/her place of birth, religion, physicality, geography, social status etc. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 40 million children aged below 15 years fall victim to violence each year. The  consequences of  this traumas can have long run medical and negative psychosocial consequences. The refugee children will face the same consequence if not taken care of immediately.

Every child is the future of the world and it is a responsibility of each and every one of us as a global citizen to open our heart, be compassionate, and care for the prosperous future of these afflicted children. Not only by donating but also by advocacy, giving time, warmth, kindness, humanity, empathy, care, concern and, above all, by showing love to the future citizens of the world. Every child deserves a future and an opportunity to contribute to humanity.


Edited by Mariann Rikka

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