KUTUPALONG CAMP, Bangladesh – Trucks loaded with supplies – including soap, diapers, towels and slippers – were headed to Bangladeshi refugee camps where nearly 380,000 Rohingyas who have arrived from neighboring Myanmar since Aug. 25 are awaiting humanitarian assistance, the United Nations Children’s Fund said on Thursday.
According to UNICEF estimates, children and adolescents make up 60 percent of the 379,000 Rohingyas who have arrived in Bangladesh since Aug. 25, fleeing ongoing violence in Myanmar, among whom 23 percent are below the age of 5.
“There are acute shortages of everything, most critically shelter, food and clean water (...) We have a monumental task ahead of us to protect these extremely vulnerable children,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF’s Representative in Bangladesh.
The current humanitarian crisis began following an Aug. 25 attack by a Rohingya insurgent group on police and military posts in the northwestern state of Rakhine that led to a violent response by the Myanmar army, who on Saturday rejected ARSA’s offer of a month-long ceasefire to allow the entry of humanitarian assistance.
A similar incident in October between rebels and Myanmar security forces triggered an exodus of more than 80,000 Rohingyas.
Before the current crisis erupted, between 300,000-500,000 Rohingyas had been living in Bangladesh, out of whom only 32,000 enjoyed refugee status.